Open Letter to Ivanka Trump on Syrian Refugees

Dear Ivanka,

You made headlines last week while on a visit to Germany when you said that making America a safe haven for innocent victims of the Syrian war must be “part of the discussion.” Yesterday, you held a meeting at the White House with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to discuss humanitarian crises in places like Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

At HIAS, the oldest — and only Jewish — global refugee assistance agency in the world, we are encouraged by your interest in refugees and thank you for your openness to discussing the need for resettlement of Syrians who have fled for their lives and need our help.

Protecting and welcoming refugees and asylum seekers has long been a bipartisan tradition in this country. Since 2011, the United States has resettled more than 20,000 Syrian refugees, integrating them into our national fabric with the care and support of their local communities.

However, the sad fact is that today there are over 21 million refugees worldwide, and children account for more than half of that population. Millions of children experience the trauma of war, displacement, and the prolonged limbo of life as a refugee, often spending months or years out of school. They’re missing out on not only their childhoods but their chance at an education. After the chemical attacks in Syria last month, the President said, “no child of God should ever suffer such horror.”


Assisting innocent victims of war and terror is not simply a humanitarian imperative, it’s also in the best interest of our country’s national security. The U.S. has long been a leader in humanitarian aid, helping refugees in countries of first asylum. And through a robust and secure resettlement program in the United States we can help curb the forces of radicalization while revitalizing our own communities.

Your engagement is a welcome step, and our sincere hope is that it marks the beginning of a new approach to humanitarian policy towards refugees.


Mark Hetfield

President & CEO at HIAS