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Reform Jewish Movement Opposes Changes to Public Benefits Use for Immigrant Families

Reform Jewish Movement Opposes Changes to Public Benefits Use for Immigrant Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
September 24, 2018

Media Contacts:
Jenna Galper, jgalper@rac.org, 202-387-280

WASHINGTON, DC - On Saturday, September 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced a proposed change to how it considers immigrant use of public benefits in visa application decisions. If this proposal is adopted, the administration would be able to penalize immigrants applying to become lawful permanent residents if they enroll in SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D, or other essential programs.

In response, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement:

“We condemn the administration’s proposal that will force immigrants to choose between advancing their immigration status and accessing vital public benefits that strengthen them and society overall. At this moment when immigrant communities are increasingly vulnerable, individuals are already foregoing needed medical care and food for their children through programs like SNAP out of concern for their immigration status. This new attack by DHS tarnishes America’s legacy as a nation of opportunity, built by immigrants.

“Jewish tradition leaves no room for interpretation when it comes to the treatment of immigrants. In Leviticus we learn: '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]. Compelling people to choose between caring for their health and well being and their immigration status is not loving; it is callous. We call on the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw this proposal.”

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more