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Advocacy at Consultation: Immigration Reform


United States immigration policy has long reflected the tension between hospitality and hostility - between the desire to welcome new immigrants and the perceived need to limit immigration to protect the interests of those already here. This tension is particularly troubling given the United States’ legacy as a nation of immigrants. Today, there are serious deficiencies in the U.S. immigration system. With more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, we need robust efforts to reform our immigration laws.

Major backlogs in the family-based immigration system force U.S. citizens and non-citizens to wait many years to reunite with family members who wish to come here. The number of employment-based visas available is far too small to meet employer demands for work. In addition to the humanitarian issues these problems create, our nation’s security is weaker when so many people live in the shadows of society and are reluctant to work with law enforcement agencies because of fear of deportation.

In 2013, the Senate passed a bill crafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators that would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, expanded and improved employment verification systems, improved work visa options for low-skilled workers and made improvements on border security and visa tracking procedures. Unfortunately, the bill never came to a vote in the House. Since then, no comprehensive immigration reform legislation has passed either the House or Senate.

In the absence of a legislative approach to immigration reform, President Obama used executive power to address the growing population of undocumented immigrants living within the United States. In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gave over 750,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children the ability to work and attend school without fear of deportation. That program was supplemented in 2014 by the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which would have allowed parents of those legally residing in the United States to remain in the U.S. and work without fear of deportation. The DAPA program was never implemented because the executive order was challenged in the courts. (The Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in United States v. Texas effectively maintaining the lower court’s stay of DAPA’s implementation.) Now, participants in and applicants to DACA are once again vulnerable for deportation, with their names and contact information known to the federal government.

Reform Jewish Values

Jewish tradition speaks clearly to the treatment of immigrants: As Leviticus 19:33-34 commands, “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 you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”. This principle is echoed 35 times in the Torah, the most repeated of any commandment, and inspires our commitment to justly and compassionately addressing the plight of undocumented immigrants and refugees within our communities.

Our own people’s history as “strangers” - living in others’ lands - reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today. We affirm our commitment to creating the same opportunities for today’s immigrants that were valuable to our own community not so many years ago. 

The Reform Movement has long advocated for the well-being and humane treatment of undocumented immigrants and refugees. In 1985, the URJ passed a resolution encouraging congregations to "...provide sanctuary in one or more of its forms to Central Americans and other refugees who request safe haven out of fear of persecution upon returning to their homelands." This resolution was supplemented in 2017 with a resolution that specifically encourages congregations to support and protect undocumented immigrants facing deportation by creating a plan to provide temporary shelter within their facilities, legal assistance to fight deportation cases, or material, financial or educational support.

Legislative Update

In January 2017, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) introduced the Bridge Act (S. 128/H.R. 496). This bipartisan bill would allow DACA recipients and those eligible for DACA to apply for “provisional protected presence” and work authorization for a three-year period. The bill would also impose restrictions on the sharing of information in DACA and provisional protected presence applications with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection for purposes of immigration enforcement. The Bridge Act does not offer a pathway to citizenship, but it does allow DREAMers the ability to work and participate in American society without fear of deportation.

Urge your Members of Congress to:

  1. Address the broken immigration system by working to introduce and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a pathway to citizenship;
  2. Co-sponsor the Bridge Act (S. 128/H.R. 496), a bipartisan bill that would allow DACA recipients and those eligible for DACA to apply for “provisional protected presence” and work authorization for a three-year period.

Read more about the criminal justice system and efforts to enact much-needed reforms.

Co-Sponsors of Immigration Reform-related Legislation

When crafting your legislative ask, refer to the following lists to see whether your Senator or Representative has expressed their support for the Bridge Act (S. 128/H.R. 496) and how they voted on the Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.

Co-Sponsors of the Bridge Act (S. 128/H.R. 496)
The lists below contain only the names of Senators and Representatives who are currently co-sponsors of the Bridge Act

*=Original Co-Sponsor

Rep. Stewart, [R-UT-2]

Rep. DeGette [D, CO-1]

Senate Co-Sponors House Co-Sponsors
Sen. Durbin, Richard J. [D-IL]* Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24]
Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA]* Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]*
Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]* Rep. Costa, Jim [D-CA-16]
Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC]* - Lead Sponsor Rep. Denham, Jeff [R-CA-10]*
Sen. Harris, Kamala D. [D-CA]* Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA-19]*
Sen. Heller, Dean [R-NV] Rep. Panetta, Jimmy [D-CA-20]
Sen. Murkowski, Lisa [R-AK]* Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40]*
Sen. Nelson, Bill [D-FL] Rep. Torres, Norma J. [D-CA-35]
Sen. Schumer, Charles E. [D-NY]* Rep. Valadao, David G. [R-CA-21]
  Rep. Coffman, Mike [R-CO-6]* - Lead Sponsor
  Rep. Curbelo, Carlos [R-FL-26]*
  Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [R-FL-27]*
  Rep. Gutierrez, Luis V. [D-IL-4]*
  Rep. Bacon, Don [R-NE-2]
  Rep. Donovan, Daniel M., Jr. [R-NY-11]
  Rep. Faso, John J. [R-NY-19]
  Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. [D-NY-12]
  Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian K. [R-PA-8]
  Rep. O'Rourke, Beto [D-TX-16]
  Rep. Jayapal, Pramila [D-WA-7]
  Rep. Newhouse, Dan [R-WA-4]
  Rep. Reichert, David G. [R-WA-8]
  Rep. Stewart, Chris [R-UT-2]
  Rep. DeGette, Diana [D-CO-1]


 Votes on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744/H.R. 15)

The list below contains only the names of Senators that are currently members of the 115th Congress, and how they voted on S.744 when it came up for a vote in the 113th Congress.

Sen. Alexander, Lamar [R-TN], Yea Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA], Yea
Sen. Baldwin, Tammy [D-WI], Yea Sen. King, Angus [I-ME], Yea
Sen. Barrasso, John [R-WY], Nay Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN], Yea
Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO], Yea Sen. Leahy, Patrick J. [D-VT], Yea
Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT], Yea Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT], Nay
Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO], Nay Sen. Manchin, Joe [D-WV], Yea
Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR], Nay Sen. McCain, John [R-AZ], Yea
Sen. Brown, Sherrod [D-OH], Yea Sen. McCaskill, Claire [D-MO], Yea
Sen. Burr, Richard [R-NC], Nay Sen. McConnell, Mitch [R-KY], Nay
Sen. Cantwell, Maria [D-WA], Yea Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ], Yea
Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD], Yea Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR], Yea
Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE], Yea Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS], Nay
Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [D-PA], Yea Sen. Murkowski, Lisa [R-AK], Yea
Sen. Cochran, Thad [R-MS], Nay Sen. Murphy, Christopher [D-CT], Yea
Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME], Yea Sen. Murray, Patty [D-WA], Yea
Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE], Yea Sen. Nelson, Bill [D-FL], Yea
Sen. Corker, Bob [R-TN], Yea Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY], Nay
Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX], Nay Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH], Nay
Sen. Crapo, Mike [R-ID], Nay Sen. Reed, Jack [D-RI], Yea
Sen. Cruz, Ted [R-TX], Nay Sen. Risch, James [R-I], Nay
Sen. Donnelly, Joe [D-IN], Yea Sen. Roberts, Pat [R-KS], Nay
Sen. Durbin, Richard J. [D-IL], Yea Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL], Yea
Sen. Enzi, Michael B. [R-WY], Nay Sen. Sanders, Bernard [I-VT], Yea
Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA], Yea Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI], Yea
Sen. Fischer, Deb [R-NE], Nay Sen. Schumer, Charles [D-NY], Yea
Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ], Yea Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC], Nay
Sen. Franken, Al [D-MN], Yea Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH], Yea
Sen. Gillibrand, Kristen E. [D-NY], Yea Sen. Shelby, Richard C. [R-AL], Nay
Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC], Yea Sen. Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI], Yea
Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA], Nay Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT], Yea
Sen. Hatch, Orrin G. [R-UT], Yea Sen. Thune, John [R-SD], Nay
Sen. Heinrich, Martin [D-NM], Yea Sen. Toomey, Patrick [R-PA], Nay
Sen. Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND], Yea Sen. Udall, Tom [D-NM], Yea
Sen. Heller, Dean [R-NV], Yea Sen. Warner, Mark R. [D-VA], Yea
Sen. Hirono, Mazie K. [D-HI], Yea Sen. Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA], Yea
Sen. Hoeven, John [R-ND], Yea Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI], Yea
Sen. Inhofe, James [R-OK], Nay Sen. Wicker, Roger [R-MS], Nay
Sen. Isakson, Johnny [R-GA], Nay Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR], Yea
Sen. Johnson, Ron [R-WI], Nay