Saperstein: Our Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger inspires us, even as we know that the young people covered by this new policy are not strangers; they study in our schools, serve in our armed forces, and contribute to our communities.
Washington, D.C., June 15, 2012: In response to the Obama Administration's decision to offer relief from removal and work authorization to qualifying undocumented young people, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
"Today's announcement reminds us that pragmatic and effective policies can also be humane. The law-abiding young women and men who were brought to the United States by undocumented parents will now have the opportunity to thrive in the country they know as home without the looming specter of possible deportation.
This policy will strengthen our immigration system by helping nearly one million young adults receive work authorization so they can come out of the shadows and fully contribute to this great nation. ÐThese are the same principles embodied by the DREAM Act, which has languished in Congress for too long. Although a legislative remedy would be preferable to executive action that can be overturned by successive administrations, we are hopeful that the benefits of this new policy will demonstrate to all why it is worth maintaining.
Jewish teachings emphasize our responsibility to care for the strangers in our midst. Leviticus 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" [19:33-34]. Our Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger inspires us, even as we know that the young people covered by this new policy are not strangers; they study in our schools, serve in our armed forces, and contribute to our communities. Today's policy announcement reflects this reality and we welcome it wholeheartedly."