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Congress Tries to Pass Some Unwelcoming Legislation

Congress Tries to Pass Some Unwelcoming Legislation

Buoyed by a new session, Congress has been busy taking up legislation on immigration reform. Yet unfortunately, that “reform” has just meant going back to the old ways of doing things, when no undocumented immigrants were protected from deportation and our border communities lived in fear of government officials.

First, the Senate voted on the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, a bill that would eliminate almost all of the President’s actions on immigration. Not only would the bill undo President Obama’s executive action to protect about 4 million undocumented parents from deportation in November, but it would also eliminate the hugely successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The bill was passed by the House last month, but in the Senate, the bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed for passage. In two successive votes, the bill failed 51-48 and 53-47, with no Democrats or Independents voting in favor. The fight over this issue is not over, however, as the provisions to eliminate reform were attached to a larger bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The House, the Senate and the President will all need to agree on a proposal to fund DHS by the end of the month to avoid a departmental shutdown.

In the other chamber, the House will be voting soon on H.R. 399, a bill that would “transfer assets from theatre of war and redeploy them to the Southwest border.” It is a militarization-only approach to border security, adopting a tried-and-failed strategy of addressing immigration only by policing the border instead of addressing the underlying causes of undocumented immigration. The vote was supposed to take place last week, but has been delayed due to pushback from hard-line House Republicans that the bill does not go far enough.

Our country has prided itself on welcoming the stranger, one of the most important commandments in the Torah. Time and again, we have opened our arms to those in need and those looking for a better life, and these very policies have allowed so much of our Jewish community to create successful and fulfilling lives here. We hope Congress will continue in this tradition of welcoming the stranger instead of passing bills that force undocumented immigrants to go back into the shadows and that turn our borders into “theatres of war.”

Published: 2/05/2015

Categories: Social Justice
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