Rabbis: From Abraham's journey to Canaan, to our Exodus from Egypt, to today, we are a people that has over millennia continuously been expelled, been rejected, been freed, and been welcomed. This history of migration, coupled with the most-often repeated biblical commandment to love the stranger inspires our advocacy for immigration reform that is common sense, compassionate and reflective of America's history as a nation of immigrants.
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WASHINGTON, September 12, 2013 – On the eve of Yom Kippur, nearly 1,300 rabbis and a number of cantors from all streams of American Jewry have joined together to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The letter is being issued during the Jewish High Holy Days in keeping with the spirit of self-examination as individuals and as a society. Coordinated by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the letter was signed by leading clergy of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist Movements. This unified call for common sense immigration reform by a broad range of American Jewish clergy reflects a shared commitment to a path to citizenship, improved family reunification policies, humane and effective border security, sensible worker visa policies, and avenues for refugees and asylum seekers.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Members of the 113th Congress,
We write during this High Holy Day season as Jewish clergy of all streams to add our voices to the call for the swift passage of comprehensive immigration reform. From Abraham's journey to Canaan, to our Exodus from Egypt, to today, we are a people that has over millennia continuously been expelled, been rejected, been freed, and been welcomed. This history of migration, coupled with the most-often repeated Biblical commandment to love the stranger inspires our advocacy for immigration reform that is common-sense, compassionate and reflective of America's history as a nation of immigrants.
Today, over 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the shadows of our communities. Families face up to decades long backlogs in acquiring visas, workers are left without protections, and children are left behind as parents are deported. Our domestic security is undermined when people live in fear of cooperating with law enforcement, and our economy suffers when we do not safely and legally acknowledge and employ millions of our country's workers. We can, and we must, do better.
In particular, we support:
- Above all, bringing undocumented immigrants "out of the shadows" with opportunities to regularize their status upon satisfaction of reasonable criteria and, over time, pursue citizenship;
- Family reunification policies that significantly reduce waiting times for separated families;
- Border protection policies that are consistent with American humanitarian values and effective against illegal migration;
- Legal avenues for both high- and low-skilled professionals and their families to enter the U.S. and work in a way that protects their safety while meeting employers' needs; and
- Creating safe, welcoming, and humane avenues for refugees and asylum seekers who have fled persecution in their homelands to find safety and freedom in the United States.
During this Jewish High Holy Day period, we assess individually and as a community our strengths and shortcomings and commit ourselves to doing better in the future. It is in this spirit that we write urging Congress to address the shortcomings of the past and strive to do better in swiftly passing comprehensive immigration reform in the next few months.
Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Rick Block, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Steve Fox, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbi Richard Hirsh, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Jason Klein, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
View a PDF with the full list of signatories here.