News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-up: December 2020

Dear HIAS PA Supporter,

This last month of 2020 was one of reflection and of hope. Surrounded by my immediate family at home during the holidays, I couldn’t help but think about the past ten months. Ten months of slowing down; of distancing physically but coming together virtually as a community countless times; of keeping essential workers, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations in our hearts. As much as December brought reflection, January brings hope. January—and 2021—brings a new Administration, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a new stimulus package, renewed hope for Liberian immigrants, and more. As always, I am pleased to share with you HIAS Pennsylvania’s Weekly Wins.

1. Liberian refugees get a fair chance at citizenship

The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) program has been extended for a second year, to December 2021! HIAS Pennsylvania, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and several other organizations worked together to advocate for this program extension, which was included in the government spending bill signed on Monday, December 28th, 2020!

The program provides a path to lawful status and citizenship for certain Liberian nationals. This extension upholds the intent of the LRIF program, because it aims to treat our Liberian-born community members fairly. LRIF candidates are essential to the healthcare system and our economy as we work together to recover from the ravages of COVID-19. We believe thousands of eligible individuals nationwide were reluctant to apply under the current administration but will be encouraged to do so under the incoming Biden administration. HIAS Pennsylvania is thrilled to have the opportunity to help more of our hard-working neighbors stabilize their immigration status, which strengthens families, communities, and our country. We are already renewing our outreach efforts to the Liberian diaspora in 2021 so we can help more Liberian-born neighbors apply!

-Pamela Roberts, Citizenship and Family Unification Staff Attorney


2. Undocumented and uninsured, but now medical debt-free

I helped an undocumented client apply for Emergency Medical Assistance, and the application was approved! This client had a lung removed back in 2016, and was severely ill with COVID in September and October. He was hospitalized, and was miraculously able to recover. However, his weeklong stay in the hospital landed him with $17,000 in hospital bills! Since COVID has been designated an emergency medical condition, I helped him apply for coverage and now he will not be in massive medical debt.

-Emily Polstein, Immigrant Case Manager


3. ESL students come together virtually to learn how to cook treasured dishes

This week folks from the Culinary Literacy Center at the Free Library (CLC) came to HIAS PA’s Immigrant Wellness Program’s “Wellness Wednesday” group and ran a virtual cooking class. It was such a blast watching all of the English as a Second Language (ESL) students cook along (we made chana masala). Big thanks to Immigrant Wellness Program Case Manager Anna Shaffer, and HIAS PA MSW Intern Maggie, for helping to make this happen!

-Amy Eckendorf, Immigrant Wellness Program Manager


Thank you for your continued support of HIAS Pennsylvania. I hope that these Weekly Wins from HIAS PA staff have given you a lift, as they do me. Look out for more wins at the beginning of next month!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson