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Reform Jewish Leader Responds to Senate Compromise on Immigration

Pelavin: We are concerned that Members of the Senate are failing to recognize the truly humanitarian aspects of this debate.

Contact: Sean Thibault or Cara Fisher
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington DC, May 21, 2007 – In response to the Senate compromise immigration bill, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism wrote to the Senate to urge our leaders to enact true comprehensive immigration reform.  The text of the letter follows:

Dear Senator,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, I write today to express our support for the process moving forward towards a truly comprehensive immigration bill, while recognizing areas of grave concern in regard to the current status of the Senate compromise. 

We are concerned, in particular with the potential dismantling of the family immigration system and the implementation of a temporary worker program that does not provide for a path to earned legal status.  We are concerned that Members of the Senate are failing to recognize the truly humanitarian aspects of this debate.  And we urge you to use this moment, while public attention is focused on immigration, to move forward immigration reform that will benefit not only those currently living in this country without legal status, but also future immigrant communities. 

Certainly, the needs of employers are not being met by our current immigration system, and those challenges must be addressed.  But doing so at the expense of family-based immigration fails to recognize the importance of the family structure in immigrants’ contributions to our society.  The notion of abandoning an immigration system which prioritizes family unity signifies a shift in American values.   Individuals simply want to do more, and to do better, when they have family members around them and we urge you to consider the implications of creating an immigration system based on competition, rather than family. 

Like so many Americans who are descendants of immigrants to this nation, the Reform Jewish community is especially aware that generous immigration policies have benefited us and others fleeing persecution and economic hardship and searching for a better life.  Jewish teaching commands us to “welcome the stranger” and we keep this principle in mind as we work towards a real solution to the problems that plague our nation’s immigration system; one that is comprehensive and focuses on family unity.  With the Senate preparing to begin consideration of legislation to address the complex problems of how to reform our nation’s broken immigration system, we urge you to recognize the humanitarian aspects of this debate and the importance of family immigration throughout our nation’s history.   

Sincerely,

Mark J. Pelavin

Associate Director

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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



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