As our elected officials leave DC to hit the campaign trail, late Friday Republican controlled Congress succeeded in pushing enforcement-only immigration legislation to build a 700 mile fence along the border between the U.S. and Mexico through the Senate (after being passed in the House and Bush has agreed to sign) in an attempt to demonstrate why people should feel sound about re-electing them to office.
I worry that they have won over many more than I care to think.
This weekend we prepare for Yom Kippur, and I know this will be heavy on my mind and heart as I move between evaluating my own life, and my relationship to my community and the world–as Rabbi Jill Jacobs eloquently detailed.
On Tuesday, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders, including Rabbi David Saperstein, along with hundreds of Jewish community leaders who sent letters to Representatives across the country, denounced passing enforcement-only legislation.

“People of faith across the country have called for an immigration policy that remembers that each of the 12 million men, women and children who seek a better life in our nation is created in the image of the divine,” Rabbi David Saperstein, who directs Reform’s Religious Action Center, said Tuesday at a news conference in a Senate office building.
He added, “No legislation is better than bad legislation, but just and fair legislation is what is best for all those who live here.” Joining Saperstein were top Christian clerics and senators from both parties.

Listening to his full testimony, and reading letters from Jewish leaders I was moved that so many stand justly on this issue, recognizing how our histories are tied, and continue to be tied to immigration, and how this legislation panders to the worst of electoral politics.
As Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, testified, the fence is “a bumper sticker solution for a complex problem. It’s a feel-good plan that will have little effect in the real world,” he said. “We all know what this is about. It may be good politics, but it’s bad immigration policy. That’s not what Americans want.”
Now I know why I don’t do bumper stickers, and let me tell you, I’m still not sure who is supposed to be feeling good about building a wall that will do nothing except harm more people.
The passage of this legislation is nothing more than false security–a false sense of control. The idea that we must construct large walls that will only continue to breed more hate and violence, rather than honestly reflect on how we are apart of the problem and take steps and measures that acknowledge our involvement in creating a global economy where people must cross borders, with or without papers, in order to feed their families–in order to stay live–is the antithesis, to me, of the spirit of these Days of Awe.
Much to do in the new year–much to do indeed. Much to build–and I don’t mean border fences. Rather, Congress should take cues from groups like PJA who lobbied in support of household workers and support SB 1322–a bill that requires cities and counties in California to identify sites for homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities and remove zoning laws that exclude the building of homeless shelters, transitional housing and special needs facilities in CA’s local communities. While the bill failed passage early in the week, it was passed by the Assembly on reconsideration and then by the Senate and now goes to the Governor.
More to this type of building in the new year.
crossposted to jspot