sexta-feira, 27 de novembro de 2015

When my wife Miriam had stage 3 colon cancer in 2003, it was refugee who saved her life. Her internist, Dr. Irinia Vilenskaya, a refugee from the USSR, and her husband, oncologist Dr. Gregory Braslavsky, stepped in after other doctors had essentially turned her away.
I am grateful every day that the United States welcomed them with open arms.
Doctors Vilenskaya and Braslavsky were part of a wave of Jews fleeing religious and ethnic persecution in the Soviet Union. I worked with many of them when I was stationed in Rome in 1989 for HIAS, a Jewish organization that at the time was dedicated to helping Jews escape life-threatening persecution. Many had survived the Nazis, the Communists, and their efforts to wipe out Jewish religion and culture. They wanted to live in a place where they could, for the first time in their lives be proud to be Jewish.
Today, I am proud to serve as president of that same organization, which now helps refugees of many faiths and ethnicities, here in the United States and around the world.And I’m proud of President Obama for welcoming them to our country.
Protecting refugees remains as urgent today as it was then. As it says in Torah, we know the heart of the stranger, because we were once strangers ourselves. HIAS has helped hundreds of families, not so different from yours or mine, who take on the challenge of starting a new life in a new country with tremendous tenacity and grace.
Because I know what refugees like Dr. Vilenskaya have contributed to this country, it breaks my heart that for some Americans a justifiable fear of terrorism has translated into fear of the other, and especially fear of refugees from Syria.
Refugees are not terrorists; they are people fleeing terror. And we can welcome them into our country while also making sure we’re safe. In fact, refugee applicants have to go through the most intensive screening of any type of traveler to the U.S.
However, fear has gotten the better of many governors who have declared that they will not accept the resettlement of Syrian refugees into their states. Openly declaring that refugees are not welcome here damages the character of this country. This type of xenophobic fear from some governors makes it much harder for nonprofit resettlement agencies like mine to welcome refugees into their new communities.
That's why it means so much that President Obama is standing up for refugees. As he said, "slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That's not who we are. And it's not what we're going to do."
I'm thankful to President Obama for standing up for refugees. I hope you'll take a stand, too.
Thank you,
Mark Hetfield

quarta-feira, 25 de novembro de 2015


The White House, Washington
Since the attacks in Paris, many have asked about our process for admitting Syrian refugees into this country.
I understand the anxiety that many Americans are feeling right now. And as Secretary of Homeland Security, I share with President Obama the top priority of keeping the American people safe. So let me be clear about what this process of vetting and resettling refugees looks like.
It's important to remember, we're focused on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians -- this means mostly women, children and families. Second, anyone who applies for and is approved for refugee status in the United States, including Syrians, must first go through a rigorous security screening process.
Watch this video I narrated to see exactly what a potential refugee goes through to resettle in the U.S.:
Secretary Johnson on the Refugee Screening Process
Taking in refugees at times of crisis is simply the right thing to do. It's who we are as a Nation.
And we can continue to ensure our own security, while doing our share to welcome refugees fleeing violence, looking to America as their beacon of hope and freedom.
This is the United States of America. We can, we must, and we will do both these things.
Thank you,
Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and give back

President Obama volunteers at Martha's Table
Dear Community Volunteer,
Last year on Thanksgiving President Obama said, “We’re grateful for the thousands of Americans who serve their communities – in soup kitchens and in shelters – looking out for those who are less fortunate and lifting up those who have fallen on hard times. This generosity, this compassion, this belief that we are each other’s keepers, is essential not just on this day but every day.”
Whether you volunteer at a food bank, help those recovering from a disaster, or reach out to a military family, there are many ways to serve your community—and we want to hear about yours.
Find us on Facebook to share how you are giving to others on Thanksgiving and throughout the year. 
If you are looking for an opportunity, visit to find one near you or get ideas for projects you can start on your own.
As we gather with loved ones tomorrow, let us count our blessings and commit to sharing those blessings with others in need, on Thanksgiving and throughout the year.