HIAS Launches Center for Refugee Policy

SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS, the global Jewish humanitarian organization that provides critical services to refugees around the world, today launched the HIAS Center for Refugee Policy. The center will develop, publish, and disseminate evidence-based policy recommendations to advance protection and integration for refugees and displaced populations, and change the narrative around issues related to their rights, safety, and integrity.

“HIAS has over 120 years of experience fulfilling the biblical imperative to welcome the stranger. Today, we are excited to launch the Center for Refugee Policy so that we can connect HIAS’ experience with empirical research and analysis,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “HIAS’ work with refugees will inform the Center, and the Center will inform HIAS’ work with refugees. The Center will lay the foundation for practice-based policy recommendations to repair the world so it becomes a place where forcibly displaced people can find welcome, safety, and freedom.”

The Center’s mission is to encourage governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders to implement innovative responses that will improve the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, and other populations on the move due to political crises and humanitarian emergencies. Bringing a uniquely Jewish perspective to global humanitarian efforts, the Center will bring together leading academics and practitioners to build HIAS’ international reputation in the refugee rights sector.

“The work of the HIAS Center for Refugee Policy will be guided by a broad policy research agenda that will rely on evidence and analysis to advance humanitarian principles and make the case for the most effective interventions,” said Center Director Guillermo Cantor. “HIAS experts will collaborate with external partners to produce a range of publications focused on practical responses to help close the gaps in the international community’s response to the displacement crisis.”

The Center will leverage the expertise HIAS has developed on the ground — with offices in 23 countries serving more than a million refugees and displaced people annually — to produce policy solutions and evidence-based knowledge. Themes for research and publications will include access to territory, asylum, and counsel; responses to gender and gender-based violence (including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity); refugee mental health and well-being; and refugee economic inclusion and prosperity.

The HIAS Center for Refugee Policy launched today with its first publication, “New Migration Management Policies in the Aftermath of Title 42.” The policy brief examines the asylum ban, expedited removal and other measures the Biden administration is currently implementing at the U.S. southern border, as officials also work to expand pathways for people from countries around the Western Hemisphere to resettle in the United States. The brief provides analysis on these new policies’ legal precedents and their implications going forward, both for the United States and other countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Among other potential areas of focus for the Center are resettlement and integration, climate displacement, rapid response needs, and the role that HIAS and other Jewish organizations have played in responding to the needs of Jewish and other refugees for more than a century.


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