Justice

Comprehensive Immigration Reform spreads like wildfire – we hope…

Last week, on May 7th, a broad spectrum of Evangelical Christians launched a notional campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in order to mobilize churches and faith groups to pressure political leaders nationally and in five targeted states: Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.. Among the organizers are the ubiquitous Jim Wallis, (Founder, Sojourners), Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Marcos Witt, Pastor of Lakewood Church, Rev. Dan Soliday, and Rev. Derrick Harkins, Pastor. Their statement and signatories can be seen here. It is unsurprising to see Wallis, who is attempting to wrestle Evangelical Christianity away from its current obsessions back to it roots among the poor, although it is surprising to me that this hasn’t spread like wildfire, given the growing number of Evangelicals who are themselves immigrants, and the spread of Evangelical Christianity in Latin America.
I hope to see this topic take wings generally among the American public. I hopethat there is at least increasing awareness that this is not a topic that Jews can afford to ignore. Our history, of course, should shame us into being involved – we are not so far from those ancestors who came here with nothing and worked themselves into early graves to see us join the ranks of the middle class or better. We should certainly be ashamed not to assist those who follow us to receive the same benefits that continue to advance us.
There are signs that we have over the past few years just a barely bit begun to be aware once again, of our own history, and to honor it:
Just this past week, the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, at its annual convention, voted to pass a resolution (which I include here only because I can’t seem to find it online -scroll to bottom); way back in 2005, The Conservative Movement’s synagogue body (USCJ) passed a resolution suporting the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society’s (HIAS) “Interfaith Statement in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” IN 2006, HIAS produced another letter, which was signed by, among others: Rabbi Abba Cohen of Agudath Israel of America, Steve Gutow of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, several prominent individuals of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Rabbinical Assembly and USCJ rabbis, Rabbi David Saperstein of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Nathan Diament of Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
What I have been unable to find is a recent set of resoutions that really has everyone participating: Where is exactly the broad spectrum of Orthodox organizations participating? If the Reconstructionist federation has passed a resolution on tihs, they have made it difficult to find. I realize that all of us can’t get along on many things (and if we did, we would be sure not to need any resolutions, as yamei hamashiach would surely be following directly) but immigration reform seems ot be a bit of a no-brainer. HIAS got a reasonable number of the usual suspects, but perhaps we could do better? How about it folks – surely we can do as well as the Evangelicals
Rabbinical Assembly Resolution on Immigration, 2007
RESOLUTION ON IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES
“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger” (Ex. 23:9)
WHEREAS the Jewish people have been immigrants and wanderers for most of our history;
WHEREAS the United States, which has long been a home and haven for economic and political refugees, maintained open immigration policies in the early twentieth century that saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews and others;
WHEREAS immigrants constitute more than 13% of the United States workforce, yet do not hurt employment opportunities for U.S.-born workers (2006 study by the Pew Hispanic Center);
WHEREAS an estimated ten to twelve million undocumented immigrants are already living, working, going to school, and paying taxes in the United States; and, in many cases, raising children who are United States citizens;
WHEREAS the immigrant population pays more in taxes than they collect in public benefits and the Social Security Administration holds $420 billion from the earnings of immigrants who are not qualified to collect social security payments;
WHEREAS the current immigration system compromises U.S. security by creating a shadow population of millions of undocumented immigrants who are unable to adjust their status; and
WHEREAS the current enforcement-only approach to immigration has not stemmed the flow of undocumented immigrants, and has led private citizens and local law enforcement authorities, who are not trained in immigration law, to patrol the border and to arrest and detain immigrants.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the United States government to implement an immigration policy that allows the United States to attain its full economic potential;
to create opportunities for earned legalization and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States as supported by President George W. Bush and the current U.S. administration;
to prevent the exploitation of immigrant workers by guaranteeing wage and safety protections;
to ensure that those who provide needed support and services to undocumented immigrants are not criminalized;
to reduce the backlog in the family reunification system to preserve family stability;
to allow immigrants access to public services without fear of retribution; and
to guarantee due process in immigration proceedings and the protection of civil liberties.

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