TRUST Act's Moral Backers: Rabbis and Jewish Advocates Mobilized for Change
Contact: Sean Thibault
October 7, 2013 -- When Governor Brown signed the TRUST Act into law on October 5th, 2013, moral advocates from across California were ecstatic: for three years, a coalition of religious, civic and social groups have organized and mobilized to promote passage of the TRUST Act. Prior to the TRUST Act, undocumented residents could be held for deportation after arrest, even if they had no serious criminal history and had been arrested only for minor offenses.
Under the TRUST Act, undocumented residents can be held for deportation only if they have committed a specified serious or violent crime. Reform CA, a new campaign of the Reform Jewish Movement to tackle issues of injustice in California, worked with organizations and individuals from across the religious and political spectrum to partner with the lawmakers essential to making the TRUST Act law.
Jennifer Kaufman, Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, explains: "Enactment of the TRUST Act will address the negative impact of the Secure Communities program, which has created a climate of fear in the immigrant community and has caused unbearable suffering for immigrants in California."
The Reform Movement has long been committed to a tradition of social justice, adds Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism's Just Congregations and Lead Organizer of "Reform CA," saying: "As a Movement, we are committed to repairing our broken world and acting powerfully for change. This shared victory is an important example of what is possible when we act in partnership across lines of race, class, and faith, and amplify the moral voice by standing together for justice."
Reform CA has worked on the TRUST Act for the past year. "We remember the experiences of our own ancestors who came to this country as strangers in generations past and struggled to achieve full inclusion in American life. The immigrant story in America is our story," said Rabbi Kenneth Chasen of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles. "We rallied behind the TRUST Act because it is our obligation as Jews to ensure that more of today's aspiring Americans will be free from the fear of being separated from their families. This victory will make California a safer state for victims of domestic abuse and other heinous crimes, while restoring trust between immigrants and local law enforcement."
In the midst of what is also a national conversation on immigration, Rabbi Sydney Mintz of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, adds: "We hope the signing of the TRUST Act will serve as a light unto the rest of our country as well, as we struggle to create common sense federal legislation for the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. We hope that Congress follows California's lead."
During this TRUST Act campaign, in partnership with the interfaith coalition, Reform CA lobbied in Sacramento, preached sermons, deliveredmore than 1,000 phone calls and hundreds of clergy signatures from all across California urging Governor Brown to sign the TRUST Act into law, and worked to protect critical language in the legislation, ensuring that the TRUST Act will serve the most immigrants possible.
“When the moral voice of the faith community is raised, when we engage in grassroots organizing and partner with our elected officials, when we stand shoulder to shoulder with other races and faith communities, we make democracy work. Today we will all be part of a more just and compassionate California." said Rabbi Mona Alfi of Congregation B'nai Israel in Sacramento.