That is the message going out from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (which has rebranded itself as HIAS Inc.)—put pressure on Washington to get more Syrian (mostly Muslim) refugees here faster. HIAS thinks Obama’s decision to bring in 10,000 and distribute them around the US is too low. They want 100,000!
Charitable Americans think sending money and supplies for Syrians is a sensible and good thing to do—so that they might be comfortable until someday soon they could go home to Syria. Not HIAS, they want you to join their lobbying campaign to transport the Middle East to middle America and get them on the track for US citizenship.
But, surprise, surprise, no where in this article at Jweekly does it mention that HIAS and eight other contractors are paid by the head (out of your wallets!) to resettle refugees in unsuspecting towns and cities.
The best thing Americans can do to help Syrian refugees is not to send supplies or even cash, but to lobby the U.S. government to admit more of them into this country, Riva Silverman said last week at Stanford’s Ziff Center for Jewish Life.
“In 2015, the U.S. is committed to resettling 70,000 refugees [from all countries]. That number is less than half the number of refugees we resettled just 10 years ago, when the number of refugees worldwide was significantly less,” said Silverman, the HIAS vice president for external affairs.
Germany, she said, has offered to resettle 800,000 Syrian refugees in response to the crisis. HIAS, formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, has called upon the United States to admit 100,000 Syrian refugees in addition to the refugee slots it has already allocated.
Silverman was at Hillel at Stanford on Oct. 14 as part of a speaking tour with her colleague, Winnie Gacheru, director of HIAS Kenya, in order to raise awareness about the refugee crisis and the Jewish agency’s work in aiding and resettling refugees. Ten local synagogues and Jewish agencies, including the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley, were among the dozen or so co-sponsors of the event, titled “Yearning to Breathe Free: The Jewish Response to Today’s Refugee Crisis.”
HIAS was founded in the 19th century to assist Jewish immigrants who showed up on American shores impoverished and to rescue Jews who in danger around the world. The agency helped resettle Jews fleeing Europe, Russia and the Middle East, with the final wave from the former Soviet Union ebbing by the end of the 20th century.
“HIAS could have easily stated ‘mission accomplished’ and closed up shop” when the flow of Jewish refugees ended, Silverman said. “Instead, we took our experience and turned our focus to the millions of today’s refugees who find themselves fleeing their persecutors.”
The average American reading this next paragraph will think that HIAS is doing this by raising private charitable money!
HIAS now has field operations in 10 countries and is one of nine agencies sanctioned to resettle immigrants in the United States. Abroad, HIAS helps people attain refugee status and makes sure they have the documentation they need to be eligible for social services, to send their children to school, to work and to move forward with their cases. HIAS also provides counseling and job training.
“The most important thing for Americans to be doing now in this crisis is to make our government behave very differently,” Silverman said.
It is maddening, isn’t it, to know that they get millions of tax dollars every year and use some of it to lobby Washington!