HIAS Condemns Shameful Anti-Refugee Rhetoric

NEW YORK—In response to the ongoing wave of anti-refugee rhetoric, HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield issued the following statement:

“Minimizing the human cost of the most severe refugee crisis in history is shameful in any context. When refugees—people who leave their entire lives behind simply in search of safety—are politicized and used to fan the toxic flames of xenophobia, we have an obligation to let our leaders know it is unacceptable.

“Persecution always starts with dehumanization. Often times this is done in jest, making people objects of derision while taking away their human qualities. Likening refugees to diseases or to junk food, like candy, is a particularly egregious example of how refugees could be dehumanized. Refugees are people, each one with the same human rights as everyone else, forced to flee when their life was in danger or their rights severely threatened due to who they are or what they believe.

“The consequences of dehumanizing and then closing the doors on refugees resonate especially deeply in the Jewish community, which remembers the plight of Jewish refugees who were turned away during World War II when they had nowhere else to go. Then, as now, refugees were falsely cast as a threat, rather than sheltered from the threats they were fleeing. We cannot allow ourselves to make the same mistakes for the same reasons.

“65 years after the Refugee Convention was conceived, the nations of the world are once again coming together this week to determine a path forward for providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons. This is the kind of action we must continue to demand from our leaders, and we look forward to partnering with this administration, and the next administration, to help greater numbers of refugees.”



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