We Were Strangers Too

From the good folks at JCUA (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs):

Just days before Passover, we have a tremendous opportunity to call on Congress to fix our broken immigration system.  As we commemorate that We Were Strangers Too in the land of Egypt, we should take time to reflect on how strangers in the U.S. today are treated.  Think of these as the “plagues” of our current immigration system:

1. Keeping Families Apart: The current system keeps families apart. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are separated with no means of contacting one another during the detention process. Others have to wait as long as 22 years to be reunited with immediate family members who have been granted legal status.

2. NAFTA: The North American Free Trade Act has led to wealth disparities, destroyed agriculture as a means of income in Mexico and reduced wages for all countries involved, leaving citizens of Mexico with fewer options to take care of their families.

3. Low Wages: Despite the fact that UCLA’s Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda found that legalizing undocumented workers would yield $1.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP over a 10-year period and would raise wages. Undocumented workers are severely underpaid for their work and often work in unsafe conditions. (See this for more.)

4. Living in Fear: Law enforcement leaders from around the country are calling for a path to citizenship knowing the more documented a person is the more he or she will be willing to assist in the prevention and just resolution of criminal activity. In some cases health care workers are required to report illegal immigrants to the authorities- leaving many undocumented workers in fear to see a doctor- even when they or their family members are sick.

5. Wage Theft:  With no legal system to protect them, employers take advantage of workers with low and in some cases no pay for a hard days work. The net effect can be a lowering of wages for all working in some of Americas most physically demanding jobs.

6. Lack of Due Process: In 2009 more than 370,000 people were detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Even without a criminal background, they can be jailed for months at a time and denied them access to legal counsel and other basic human rights.

7. No Path to Legalization for Minors: There is no path to citizenship for people who were brought to the Untied States as minors. They are punished for the alleged transgressions of their parents and forced to return to countries they do not know.

Okay, so those are not quite 10 plagues, but through our efforts, we can help put an end to the suffering and fix our broken immigration system.

20 Responses to “We Were Strangers Too”

  1. Let’s see if I’ve got that video right. If Jose is sent back to Mexico the Poles will beat him up for being Jewish and then the Nazis will kill him.

    Yup its exactly the same situation.


    Dave · March 15th, 2010 at 10:18 pm
  2. Dave – so we should only feel empathy for people in situations that are *identical* to ours?


    Julie · March 16th, 2010 at 6:56 am
  3. >>“Dave – so we should only feel empathy for people in situations that are *identical* to ours?”

    The situations aren’t even remotely alike. It’s an absurd and pretty shameless effort to suggest that illegal Mexican immigrants are the same as persecuted Polish Jews in 1941. What inane silliness!


    Eric · March 16th, 2010 at 1:33 pm
  4. Eric, according to the video, Saul immigrated in 1920, not 1941. Also, he himself clearly believes that there’s a parallel between his situation and Jose’s, as evidenced by the fact that he’s taking part in this campaign – and since he’s the one who actually experienced being a Jewish immigrant in the early 20th century, don’t you think we should perhaps trust his judgment?


    Julie · March 16th, 2010 at 1:50 pm
  5. I think Saul is pretty dim if he thinks there’s a similarity between the situation of a Mexican in Mexico of 2010 and a Jew in Poland of the early 20th Century.


    Eric · March 16th, 2010 at 4:40 pm
  6. I also doubt that Saul’s father illegally sneaked his family across the Canadian border….


    Eric · March 16th, 2010 at 4:41 pm
  7. @Eric: No? Well, maybe not, but my great grandmother snuck my grandmother, great aunt and great uncle across the Russian border, and several others. And plenty of our ancestors came here for economic reasons, rather than persecution.


    KRG · March 16th, 2010 at 8:57 pm
  8. >> we have a tremendous opportunity to call on Congress to fix our broken immigration system.<<

    Our immigration system isn’t broke. It’s simply not enforced. How about we start by enforcing the laws first, see how that works out, before we make new ones. And I’m not just referring to laws against illegal aliens. We need to be equally rigorous in applying the law to the employers who daily take advantage of these folks.


    Too Old to Jewschool Steve · March 16th, 2010 at 10:54 pm
  9. I think Saul is pretty dim if he thinks there’s a similarity between the situation of a Mexican in Mexico of 2010 and a Jew in Poland of the early 20th Century.

    Definitely not…Jews are just so fundamentally different from everyone else.


    Amit · March 17th, 2010 at 5:22 am
  10. It is a peculiar demand by Liberal and radical Jews for the U.S. to translate their narrative (and interpretation) into domestic law, let us also consider Steinlight’s rebuttal:

    www.forward.com/articles/10590/

    “Seeking to turn God into a partisan of one’s cause is spiritually arrogant and repugnant. It’s reminiscent of the behavior of Islamist mullahs, supremacist Christians, Frankish crusaders chanting “Gott Mit Uns” and all the basketball players that ever crossed themselves before taking a free throw. Jews should know better.”


    DK · March 17th, 2010 at 9:30 am
  11. >>“Definitely not…Jews are just so fundamentally different from everyone else.”

    Why don’t you explain the similarity for us, Amit. Tell us about the terrible anti-Mexican persecution that Mexicans experience in Mexico.


    Eric · March 17th, 2010 at 11:42 am
  12. isn’t it about the experience of being an immigrant, rather the the experience that necessarily inspired immigration? do they have to be identical situations in order for us to find commonalities in experience? are some immigrants worthy because they suffered more? I don’t think that’s how our laws are written… may i’m wrong.


    Justin · March 17th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
  13. Why don’t you explain the similarity for us, Amit. Tell us about the terrible anti-Mexican persecution that Mexicans experience in Mexico.

    Eric, this is taken from this very post:

    The North American Free Trade Act has led to wealth disparities, destroyed agriculture as a means of income in Mexico and reduced wages for all countries involved, leaving citizens of Mexico with fewer options to take care of their families.

    I’ve seen the poverty in Mexico firsthand. And to answer Justin’s question, I don’t think some immigrants are more worthy of humane treatment because they’ve suffered more. Furthermore, trying to decide which is a better reason to emigrate, poverty or persecution, is pointless.

    But, fundamentally, this isn’t a matter of providing some quantifiable proof that Latin@ immigrants deserve fair treatment – it’s a matter of caring enough to choose to stand with them. And as I can see that you don’t care, and that we’re never going to see eye to eye on this, I’m bowing out of this argument. Peace.


    Julie · March 17th, 2010 at 2:32 pm
  14. it’s a matter of caring enough to choose to stand with them

    How are you standing with them?


    Jonathan1 · March 17th, 2010 at 4:18 pm
  15. Do I really have to fisk this? Fine!

    “3. Low Wages: Despite the fact that UCLA’s Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda found that legalizing undocumented workers would yield $1.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP over a 10-year period”

    In other words. 150 billion dollars per year. In a 10 trillion dollar a year economy. Doesn´t sound so impressive when you don´t multiply it tenfold.

    ” and would raise wages.”

    I don’t believe this. I…just…don’t.

    ” Undocumented workers are severely underpaid for their work and often work in unsafe conditions. (See this for more.)”

    That’s their main selling point. Otherwise why not just employ American citizens?

    “5. Wage Theft: With no legal system to protect them, employers take advantage of workers with low and in some cases no pay for a hard days work.”

    America doesn’t have a legal system? Who knew? (Sarcasm aside, I know what you are trying to say, I am just showing you it’s stupid)

    ” The net effect can be a lowering of wages for all working in some of Americas most physically demanding jobs.”

    I have a feeling they no longer teach the relation between ‘price’ and ‘supply and demand’ in economics. I learned that rule when I was 6 and it seemed logical. I guess economics has “advanced” since then.

    P.S. The list is funny at times. I laughed after reading “the more documented a person is”. Leftist neologisms and their hilarious consequences are amusing.


    formermuslim · March 17th, 2010 at 4:22 pm
  16. >>“it’s a matter of caring enough to choose to stand with them. And as I can see that you don’t care, and that we’re never going to see eye to eye on this, I’m bowing out of this argument.”

    Well clearly you’re a morally superior being to an uncaring troglodyte such as myself.

    But with the emotional rhetoric out of the way — what does “caring” about a given person have to do with setting policies that make sense for an entire nation?

    As it turns out I know a number of people who’ve had the punishing misfortune to go through the legal American immigration system — which is set up as a cleansing purgatory that atones for the applicant’s previous sins.

    I’ve joked with them, and they’ve agreed, that it would have been much simpler for them to go to Mexico, swim across the Rio Grande, adopt a name like Juan, Miguel or Frida and come to the States begging for compassion and “justice”.

    I care a great deal that the US has a retrogressive, malfunctional immigration system that punishes legal immigrants of every race and nation, and obstructs foreigners and temporary workers who are highly skilled, well educated and eager to contribute to the building of the country.

    >>“I’ve seen the poverty in Mexico firsthand.”

    Only Mexico? You’ve never seen the poverty in Ghana, Somalia, Laos, Mali, China, Assam state or Western Sahara? Why aren’t we inviting people from every poor country on the globe to land in Matamoros, Mexico and sneak across the border to Brownsville, TX? Wouldn’t that be a policy of “caring” and “standing with” the world’s poor in “solidarity”?

    >>“Furthermore, trying to decide which is a better reason to emigrate, poverty or persecution, is pointless.”

    Better send that memo to the immigration departments of every Western nation — which acknowledge bona fide persecution as immediate cause for amnesty, and work assiduously to keep impoverished foreigners out.

    The fact that people see greater economic opportunity in America than Mexico means that they’re alive and have a basic level of intelligence. But that fact and the propaganda points above (“NAFTA has led to wealth disparities, destroyed agriculture…leaving citizens of Mexico with fewer options to take care of their families.”) provide no rationale for showering citizenship upon tens of millions of illegal aliens.

    And much less so while the US continues to obstruct and abuse people who are urgently trying to enter the country legally. An unjust and decrepit rule of law is a major reason why people flee their native homes to come to America in the first place. It’s certainly not a principle we should be expanding here.


    Eric · March 17th, 2010 at 7:05 pm
  17. Some commenters here can’t get past the “illegal immigrant as Mexican” stereotype. Let’s not forget that there are those who are here illegally as a result of political situations (such as Haiti), and yet aren’t given amnesty and sent right back.


    B.BarNavi · March 22nd, 2010 at 12:21 pm
  18. FM, instead of deliberately (?) being obtuse, recognize that the legal system as it applies specifically to undocumented labor (not to mention the people who hire them!) is pretty patchwork and unenforceable. Immigration reform will simply streamline that process. Is that so hard to understand?
    And ANYONE, yes, ANYONE who has taken basic macroeconomics understands that there are always external factors skewing the S/D curve. Ain’t never that simple!


    B.BarNavi · March 22nd, 2010 at 12:27 pm
  19. “Only Mexico? You’ve never seen the poverty in Ghana, Somalia, Laos, Mali, China, Assam state or Western Sahara? Why aren’t we inviting people from every poor country on the globe to land in Matamoros, Mexico and sneak across the border to Brownsville, TX? Wouldn’t that be a policy of “caring” and “standing with” the world’s poor in “solidarity”?”

    You see, even when you invoke universal principles you can’t get out of the “brown people invasion” frame.


    B.BarNavi · March 22nd, 2010 at 12:29 pm
  20. Finland, Sweden, Liechtenstein, France, Ukraine and Poland aren’t quite as poor as Assam state and Western Sahara. But changing the skin color of the immigrant doesn’t change the issue. But wait a sec — how should we categorize Greeks, Italians, Sicilians, Basques, Maltese and Cypriots? Are they “white” or “brown”? Or some shade in between like….caramelized french vanilla?

    So no, BBN, I don’t “see”. But not all of us are blessed with your magical racist-hunting x-ray goggles.

    Nor are we all so desperate to dig up something, anything with which to label people who disagree with us as “racist”. Strange but true fact: there are decent human beings who [gasp!] don’t agree with you.


    Eric · March 22nd, 2010 at 4:11 pm

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik