Reform Jewish Leader Responds to Senate Vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Pelavin: While the Reform Jewish Movement supports important aspects of the Senate bill, we remain concerned by some of the provisions included in the bill and urge lawmakers to ensure that the final legislation is compassionate, fair and effective.
Contact: Emily Kane or Liz Kaplan
WASHINGTON DC, MAY 26, 2006 – In response to the Senate’s vote last night to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Our nation’s immigration system is clearly broken, and we acknowledge that S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, passed by the Senate last night, is a serious and bi-partisan attempt to address this issue. While the Reform Jewish Movement supports important aspects of the Senate bill, we remain concerned by some of the provisions included in the bill and urge lawmakers to ensure that the final legislation is compassionate, fair and effective.
In particular, the Reform Jewish community is encouraged by the legislation’s inclusion of a program of earned legalization – essential to any solution to our nation’s immigration problems. However, we recognize that this proposal has been significantly weakened from its original form, creating complex groupings of immigrants, and we urge Senators and Representatives to resist further undermining of the program’s effectiveness.
We are also concerned by some of the bill’s enforcement provisions, especially those that expand the definition of an aggravated felony to include such minor infractions as passport fraud; those that authorize local police to enforce immigration law; and those that grant executive branch officials excessive discretion to detain immigrants. In addition, while we support efforts to encourage and assist immigrants with learning English, we condemn the inclusion of an amendment that could weaken efforts to ensure the safety and participation of immigrants in our society by establishing English as the national language.
As Jews, we embrace Leviticus’ teaching: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” We continue to keep this principle in mind as we address the ongoing debate over reform of our nation’s immigration system.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.