Refugee advocates begin national conference in Philadelphia

Tim Jimenez
June 04, 2018 - 12:30 pm
Mayor Jim Kenney welcomes the national conference for refugee advocacy group HIAS to Philadelphia.

Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An organization that protects refugees kicked off their national conference in Philadelphia on Monday morning. 

HIAS, which has been helping refugees since 1881, is having its conference at an Old City hotel in the shadow of Independence Hall.

Mayor Jim Kenney, in opening remarks, said immigrants and refugees share a common bond with Americans.

"All of us came from somewhere else, and all of us had the opportunity to make America our home and to make America great — not again, but great," Kenney said.

Kenney says HIAS' work is essential as President Trump pushes to build a wall and immigrant families are broken up.

"It's a sad time, but when I come into rooms like this and I deal with people like you, I feel that we have hope," he said.

The president capped the number of refugees the United States will admit at 45,000 this year, the lowest since 2002. HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield says the work must continue. 

"I'm confident that each and every one of you will continue to welcome refugees to this country as loudly and as enthusiastically as we can," Hetfield said. "In one way or another."