News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-Up: May 2022

Dear Friend of HIAS PA,

This month’s HIAS PA Wins, as always, are full of joys, large and small, but the joys for our clients are often mixed with sadness as the victories come after long slogs – and separations – that can’t be erased. Read below to find out more. But before you do, a hearty thank you, thank you, thank you! Our 2022 Golden Door Awards: We Are America, our first in-person event since the start of the pandemic, was a spectacular success, and we cannot thank you enough.

Although I couldn’t be there with you in person, everyone who attended told me what an uplifting and heartwarming event it was, and I was happy to be able to join over 100 of you who watched the event remotely.

My thanks to our wonderful 2022 Golden Door Awards sponsors who, through your financial support, keep our region open to the many people who make Philadelphia strong.

Every year HIAS PA identifies a theme, and this year’s theme is “We Are America”. This year, one of our clients created this lovely print that was both presented to each honoree at the Golden Door Awards and made into magnets to give to our guests. Her picture paints a thousand words and couldn’t better capture why the theme is so fitting.


Finally, I would like to thank the HIAS PA staff who help build the America we are as they resettle refugees, reunite families, and help newcomer Philadelphians feel welcome and comfortable navigating our beautiful city.

On that note, please join me in celebrating our successes and our upcoming events, including our virtual advocacy event Commemorating the St. Louis on June 14th, and World Refugee Day on June 26th!

“32 years since you have been back home? Huh. Well…you can go buy a ticket to visit.”

This is what the USCIS officer told my client right after his successful green card interview. It was interesting to see an immigration officer seemingly confront head on the inhumanity of our immigration system.

I have been working with this client for many years, together winding our way through the maze of immigration laws to finally get him to a point where he had a permanent status in the US and the ability to visit family and friends he has been separated from for over three decades. Unfortunately, this win was bittersweet for my client as he never got to say goodbye to his mother who had passed away years earlier.

-Philippe Weisz, Director of Legal Services

Today, high school. Tomorrow, the world!

I want to share some major highlights from our Young Adult Mentoring Class of 2022! It feels like our students have new, amazing updates every day. A big thank you to our team of volunteer mentors, and to Valeri Harteg, HIAS PA’s Education Program Manager, for showing me how much of a difference advocacy can make.

  • Of our 20 students going to college next year, 10 will likely be headed to 4-year schools, including Temple, Penn State Abington, Holy Family, Lehigh University, and Drexel.
  • Out of the remaining 10, one is headed to Bucks County Community College, one is likely headed to Harrisburg Community College, and 8 will be headed to the Community College of Philadelphia. Each of these students is making informed choices about the finances of college and choosing to go for free instead of taking out loans.
  • Two of our future Penn State students will be attending for FREE through a combination of merit scholarships and need-based aid!
  • One student has a fully funded Liberty Scholarship (including room, board, and meals) at Drexel!
  • Three students will live on campus. They are the first HIAS PA students in the High School/Young Adult program to do so!
  • Two students applied, interviewed for, and were awarded the Klasko Family Scholarship, provided by longtime HIAS PA supporter and 2022 Golden Door Awardee Ron Klasko.
  • A student has an almost-fully-funded opportunity to go to Lehigh University. She was initially not offered enough, advocated for herself, and got herself additional aid!
  • One of our students, who is undocumented and in the US without parents, and who has amazing educational goals and is not supported by her family in following those goals, is number 1 in her graduating high school class and will be valedictorian!

I am so humbled to work with such incredible students!

-Michelle Ferguson, High School and Post-Secondary Lead Instructor

Thank you for your continued support of HIAS Pennsylvania. I hope that these Wins from HIAS PA staff give you a lift, as they do me. Look out for more wins at the beginning of next month—and we hope to see you at Philadelphia World Refugee Day!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson