Today, we face the enormous challenges posed by our nation's broken immigration system. Over 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the shadows of our communities across North America. Families face up to decades-long backlogs in acquiring visas, workers are left without protections, children are left behind as parents are deported, and LGBTQ Americans cannot sponsor the visa of a spouse. We can no longer delay reform of our immigration system based on streamlined processing, a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and TPS holders, upholding the right to seek asylum, family reunification, just and humane border security, and an end to immigrant detention.
Why Jews Should Care
Welcoming the stranger, or immigrant, is a core part of Jewish tradition, mentioned at least 36 times in the Hebrew Bible. Leviticus commands, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (19:33-34). Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today, and we affirm our commitment to create the same opportunities for today’s immigrants that were so valuable to our own community not so many years ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered daily life across the world and in the United States, but for the tens of thousands of detainees in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers around the country, this remains impossible. The vast majority of ICE detainees are non-violent offenders who pose little flight risk and, according to medical experts and former immigration officials, should not remain in detention during the pandemic. The FIRST Act, would enact critical restrictions on ICE detention to protect the safety of immigrants and our collective health.
The administration’s decision to bring an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017 put over 800,000 immigrant youth at risk of deportation. The administration has also terminated Temporary Protected Status—a humanitarian form of immigration status for those who cannot safely return to their home country due to extraordinary circumstances, like armed conflict and environmental disaster—for 98 percent of all holders. Congress must act immediately to protect DREAMers and TPS holders from deportation and provide a permanent, legislative fix that provides a pathway to citizenship.
Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative Immigrant and Refugee Justice Action Center
Eighty years ago, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus rescued 50 Jewish children from the Nazis. A new initiative, the Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative Immigrant and Refugee Justice Action Center, seeks to galvanize action around the current crisis of immigrants and refugees held in detention and at risk of deportation. Judaism teaches us that everyone is entitled to dignity and honor. In the face of harsh and punitive federal immigration policy, the Reform Movement is mobilizing to advocate for just and compassionate policies toward undocumented immigrants. We will not stop until families are reunited, asylum seekers are no longer treated as criminals, and our immigration system is reformed.
The Kraus initiative: The Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative for Immigrant and Refugee Justice makes our work on ending child detention, deportation defense, and helping protect DACA and DREAMers possible. Learn more about the Kraus Initiative
Deportation Defense: Participating meaningfully in public campaigns to protect individuals from deportation will preserve family unity and provide undocumented immigrants with the support and protection they need to remain safe within the United States. Learn more about our deportation defense strategy.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was established in 1881 to provide rescue and refuge for persecuted and oppressed Jews around the world. HIAS is the international migration agency of the American Jewish community. In recent years, they have directed their efforts to advocate for refugees and immigrants of all backgrounds, guided by Jewish values to help the strangers among us.
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Join the Brit Olam
The Brit Olam, covenant with our world, is the primary way the Religious Action Center is supporting Reform Jewish communities in working together to make change. Join the Immigration Justice cohort to mobilize individuals in your community and work to create a more understanding and accepting world.
Engage Your Congregation
- Urge Congress to Cut Funding for Immigration Detention and Deportation
- Urge Congress to Improve Oversight for and Alternatives to Immigrant Detention
- Thank Representatives who supported the Dream and Promise Act and urge your Senators to support DREAMers and TPS holders
- Support Immigration Reform
- Tell Congress: oppose discriminatory travel bans
- Call on Congress to support refugee resettlement
Thank you to the Generous Supporters Making this Work Possible
The Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative for Immigrant and Refugee Justice is made possible through generous funding from the Kraus Family Foundation.