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Mark Hetfield
HIAS President and CEO

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, the international refugee agency of the American Jewish community, is serving in his fifth position at the organization, for which he has worked in Rome, New York and Washington. For three years prior to rejoining HIAS in April of 2006, Mr. Hetfield was on the staff of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, where he was the Commission’s senior advisor on refugee issues. While there, he specialized in the intersection of religious freedom and refugee law, and directed a comprehensive study, authorized by Congress, on the treatment of asylum seekers in Expedited Removal, released in February 2005.

In addition, Mr. Hetfield served for five years in the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington and at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. He also practiced immigration law while associated with the Washington D.C. office of the law firm, Fulbright and Jaworski. Mr. Hetfield received his juris doctor as well as his Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) from Georgetown University.

Entries by Mark Hetfield

Massacre at Sinjar: Has the World Forgotten the Yazidi?

(2) Comments | Posted August 5, 2015 | 1:52 PM

It has been a very bad year for the Yazidi, an ancient ethnic and religious group of over 500,000 people. And it has been a shameful year for the international community which has done little to assist them, more or less going about business as usual.

For unknown centuries,...

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Why World Refugee Day is a Jewish Holiday

(1) Comments | Posted June 19, 2015 | 12:45 PM

It is impossible to avoid the stories of massive human displacement from Burma, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan, and hordes of boat migrants dying in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. However, if you want to avoid these unpleasant, disturbing stories, look no further than the Jewish press. There was...

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Next Year in Jerusalem

(26) Comments | Posted April 2, 2015 | 3:15 PM

Passover is all about the persecution of the Jewish people in Egypt, and their flight to freedom across the Sinai. It is sadly ironic that, on the eve of this important holiday of freedom, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior is issuing deportation letters to Africans who fled across Egypt...

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Border Problem, Beltway Crisis

(3) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 5:21 PM

There is a problem at the border, but it is not a problem caused by children, and it is not a problem caused by giving fleeing children due process to claim asylum.

In less than a year, nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended or, in most...

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A Dangerous Summer for Central American Kids

(6) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 4:29 PM

This month, as kids across the United States wrapped up the school year and started their summer breaks, thousands of children from Central America were embarking on a different kind of transition.

Spurred by violence, poverty, broken families, and lack of hope for a safe and productive future, some 80,000-90,000...

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Giving Up Chametz Is Not Enough

(0) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 4:40 PM

Remembering is just the beginning. As we prepare to celebrate Passover next week, we pause to reflect upon the bitterness of tyranny, the taste of freedom and the universal longing for human dignity. Over and over we have relived banishment, exile and flight -- from Spain, Morocco, Poland, Russia, Germany,...

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The Wall Street Journal Misplays the 'Asylum Card'

(2) Comments | Posted October 28, 2013 | 4:55 PM

The Huffington Post's "Best World Reads of the Week: October 12-18" recommends the October 17 Wall Street Journal article, "Credible Fear: More Illegal Immigrants Ask for Asylum" by reporter Joel Millman.

Millman, however, fails to provide the context behind the article's theme that many undocumented immigrants apprehended by...

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Senator Lautenberg: An Appreciation of His Lifesaving Work With Refugees

(0) Comments | Posted June 7, 2013 | 1:24 PM

In 1989, I traveled from New Jersey to Rome, the city in Europe where the United States government processed those fleeing the Soviet Union as refugees, a status that would allow them to come to the U.S., where they would make new lives in freedom. Hired by HIAS as a...

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Make U.S. Safer by Passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(19) Comments | Posted April 26, 2013 | 8:42 AM

What do the Boston bombings tell us about immigration? That we need immigrants, and we need immigration reform.

The two bombers were not born in the United States, but neither were many of the doctors and nurses who saved the lives of the victims. More than one in...

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A Sad Shavuot in Tel Aviv

(3) Comments | Posted May 25, 2012 | 1:20 PM

At sunset on May 26 we observe Shavuot, commemorating the occasion on Mount Sinai when G-d gave the Torah to Moses, the Jewish people, and the world. Shavuot is also the time that Jews read and study the book of Ruth. Born a non-Jew but living among the Jewish people,...

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Refugees, Hairdressers, and Homeland Security

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2011 | 5:58 PM

Americans should be grateful that the Constitution offers us some protection from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Refugees seeking admission to this country are not so lucky. Overseas, DHS under the Obama Administration is relying on "secret evidence" to rescind offers to resettle hundreds of refugees who...

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Lost in America on World Refugee Day

(1) Comments | Posted June 20, 2011 | 11:16 AM

Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day. Let's commemorate the occasion by rethinking the way we treat those who come to America after escaping persecution or torture.

In March of 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unexpectedly released Ahmed (not his real name) onto the streets of Elizabeth, NJ. A...

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Preventing Migration Aftershock for Haiti

(1) Comments | Posted February 2, 2010 | 5:18 PM

Haiti -- a beautiful country, people and culture -- was no stranger to tragedy, even before the earthquake of 2010. In the years since I left Haiti in 1994, prolonged episodes of political strife have been coupled with eight natural disasters, with massive property damage and loss of life.

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