The history of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) dates back to 1881 when the organization was created to provide immediate assistance to persecuted Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia and to receive them in the United States. Although nowadays it extends its support to anyone who is being persecuted by providing help for legal asylum, family reunification, job search, food, transportation and shelter.
In Mexico the organization arrived in 2019 establishing offices around several strategic points: Juarez, Matamoros, Mexicali, Mexico City, Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Queretaro, Palenque, Reynosa and Tijuana.
According to its web page, it has several axes:
- Legal protection. “HIAS in Mexico helps refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to obtain legal protection when filing their asylum applications in the U.S. or when applying for legal protection in Mexico”. To achieve this, it offers workshops where it informs migrants about their rights to access health care and public and humanitarian issues, but also analyzes individual cases to assist with their legal status, working with a network of lawyers on both sides of the border.
- Community mental health and psychosocial support. “Staff provide specialized mental health counseling, both remotely and in person, and provide referrals for psychiatric care.”
- Gender-based violence prevention and response. Helps migrants of any age who, because of their sexual and gender preferences, have been displaced and experience various forms of violence on the migrant journey and in their places of origin. “HIAS Mexico offers survivor-centered services to help reduce the risk of gender-based violence, including gender-based violence case management, psychosocial support and health services.” (UNHCR, 2021).
In May 2021, the President of the United States of America announced that he would seek support from various organizations to assess the cases of refugee migrants that they would accept in that country, within those organizations it was presumed the possible participation of HIAS as one of the 6 organizations chosen for such an act. (Spagat, 2021)