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, and children are left behind as parents are deported. 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.
Instead of welcoming Haitian migrants into the United States, the Biden administration is cruelly sending migrants and asylum seekers back to Haiti, a country that is not prepared to meet their basic needs or ensure their safety.
It is time for Congress to address the ongoing dysfunction in the U.S. immigration system. The Trump Administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017 put over 800,000 immigrant youth at immediate risk of deportation. The same administration also terminated Temporary Protected Status, which protects 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 to provide permanent protection from deportation for all immigrants – DREAMers and TPS holders, as well as those designated for another form of humanitarian protection known as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and essential workers serving throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Urge Congress to protect at risk immigrants from deportation by ensuring a pathway to citizenship is included in the Build Back Better Act.
Help Welcome Afghan Refugees
We can support those impacted by the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan by helping resettling refugees arriving in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., nine recognized refugee resettlement agencies, including HIAS, work with the Department of State to welcome new refugees. They are seeking congregations to partner with. LIRS, another recognized resettlement agency, has an expanding list of cities where there is particular need. You can also find a resettlement affiliate in your community at this link.
Wondering what’s involved in helping welcome new refugees? Check out this resource from HIAS.
Canadian congregations can sponsor refugees directly. Learn more at this website.
If your URJ congregation is helping resettle new Afghan refugees, apply for a Kraus Immigration Justice Mini-grant to support your work. Learn more and apply by October 15.
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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Engage Your Congregation
- 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.