Irina Greițer - first impressions from Washington DC

October, 21 2014

1st week in Washington DC went so fast!!!
On October 13, my first day at HIAS started.

My supervisor, Liza Lieberman and Bethany (another HIAS colleague) underlined HIAS Advocacy Issues for 2014 and I passed orientation program within this agency. Working in humanitarian field is rewarding, you play an essential role in identifying, highlighting, and responding to emerging challenges. That is why I would like to highlight what are the goals of my worksite placement.
HIAS stands for:

Helping people live their lives in dignity where they are
1. Livelihoods ( international programs)
2. Psycho-social assistance (international assistance)
Helping refugees find permanent safe heaven
3. Resettlement referrals (international programs)
4. US resettlement (domestic programs)
5. Legal representation (international programs, domestic programs)

2014 HIAS issues: Syrian refugees ( work on legislation, administrative advocacy, media coverage); UACs (unaccompanied minors - becoming most visible immigration/asylum issues, work on legislative, administrative advocacy with RCUSA (Refugee Council USA), media; Migrants at Sea (work is in beginning stages); Monitoring Central African republic, South Sudan, emerging crisis; Appropriations (legislative and administrative advocacy with RCUSA); Continue to lead Lautenberg Amendment; Refugees in Israel (work in coalition with other Jewish agencies and many other refugees/asylum significant aspects.

I had lot things to get acquainted with and I got my first HIAS project.

I did some basic online research to create a summary and list of all articles about statelessness in the U.S. dating back to April 2013. All U.S. and international news sources were included, particularly notable ones like New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Economist, etc.

Lastly, I was in charge for preparing a memo using certain template about my reactions to the advocacy techniques and media coverage, given my expertise on this issue as it relates to Moldova. What different advocacy strategies/tactics have been used to educate legislators and the public in Moldova? How was the issue perceived in the media? Are there other countries that have used different tactics (i.e. Ukraine)? Is the advocacy typically linked to current or proposed legislation? What suggestions do I have for HIAS to improve their advocacy on this issue?

And I still work upon my assignments.

On my second day of work, I got my second project. I joined Liza Lieberman for a meeting with Senator Mark Kirk's staff on Capitol Hill.

So before the meeting, I needed some time to research Senator Kirk's background, read about his work on refugee and immigration issues, learn about what committees he sits on, and research his leadership in terms of extending the Lautenberg Amendment and other religious freedom issues. Also I had another couple of meetings this week, but one that impressed me most was with Adam Salazar. Adam just stated his new job at Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century. CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation's best thinking.

Adam provides research support services in domestic social policy (education, pensions etc.). He is a great resource as an expert on immigration issues; previously he worked at National Immigrant Forum and Pew Research Center.

Greițer Irina,
Program Coordinator, Law Center for Advocates

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