HIAS | Asylum Explained



Asylum was in the news constantly during the Trump presidency. Borders closed, children forcibly separated from their parents, people detained in cages. Yet most Americans didn’t understand what asylum was, how the process works, and why it is an essential lifeline for many fleeing persecution.

HIAS needed to help inform their constituents and provide an education tool at a time when the asylum process was under attack. 

SideXSide Studios produced this explainer video for HIAS, providing historical context on the right to seek asylum and how someone receives the designation. We sifted through dozens of stories to find asylees whose stories represent the spectrum of asylum seekers, who were able to logistically and safely participate. With safety being a top concern, our team worked to ensure that no identifying information about the asylees would be shared in the video so as to protect them and their families, many of whom are still under threat in their home country.


This explainer was shared widely on social media, garnering more than 350,000 views, and helped to raise awareness and dispel myths about the asylum seeking process in America.

HIAS continues to use it as a primer for explanation at conferences and within education groups.


Director/Director of Photography

Gabe Silverman

Executive Producer

Jamie Coughlin


Kathryn Carlson, Liza Slutskaya


Deanna Del Ciello


Kathryn Carlson


Mike Mirandi

Assistant Editor and Assistant Producer

Liza Slutskaya

Additional Photos