CEO Mark Hetfield Reflects on Visit to U.S.-Mexico Border

By Ayelet Parness,

In a short video interview, HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield reflects his recent visit to Mexico. (Photo: People walk to the San Ysidro Port of Entry on their way to cross the southern border into the United States on March 22, 2022 in Tijuana, Mexico. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)​

When HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield planned to visit HIAS Mexico sites in Mexicali and Tijuana on May 23-24, he thought he would be there to witness the end of Title 42 – a public health policy “started by the Trump administration, continued by the Biden administration, using COVID as a pretext to push back asylum seekers [into Mexico from the U.S.-Mexico border] without any screening whatsoever,” as Hetfield shared in a short video interview taken at HIAS’ Mexicali office.

Instead, a Louisiana judge ruled May 20 that the policy would continue to remain in place – a policy Hetfield finds disappointing but not surprising.

“It’s really interesting that the COVID measures that seem to remain in place are those measures that are designed to keep asylum seekers out of the country,” said Hetfield. “There’s no mandatory mask requirements… there’s certainly not mandatory vaccinations. And yet, apparently, asylum seekers are presenting some kind of a danger to this country, and so they have to be kept out.” 

Watch the full interview above for Hetfield’s reflections on what he saw in Mexico, how Title 42 affects the U.S. asylum system, and what HIAS is doing in Mexico to help asylum seekers.

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