RAC-NY has selected an immigrant justice bill called “The Protect Our Courts Act" (S425/A2176) as our first 2020 campaign. The legislation would bar ICE from arresting anyone going to, attending, or leaving court without a valid warrant — helping stem a 1,700 percent increase in these arrests since 2016. RAC-NY leaders chose to take on this issue for several reasons: a continued connection to our undocumented neighbors and the immigrant justice groups we worked together with on Green Light NY, and helping our state and local courts function free from ICE interference.
RAC-NY is an effort by Reform lay and clergy leaders across the state to build a powerful network to make New York more merciful and more just. Over 150 leaders from 35 congregations chose Driver’s Licenses for All or #GreenLightNY as our first issue and helped win an 18 year fight for over 750,000 New Yorkers and their families.
Making driver’s licenses available to all New Yorkers, including our undocumented neighbors, does a few key things:
- It makes our roads safer by having more trained and insured drivers on the road (evidenced by the experience of 12 other states who have passed driver’s licenses for all before New York)
- It will bring in state revenue that will more than cover its costs.
The real reason we chose it, though, is because of the impact this issue has on us, our neighbors, our loved ones, our community members, our staff, and countless others. These are decent people who have to choose: Do they want to walk to the grocery store in the snow or drive and risk being deported? Do they want to catch two buses to work or drive and risk being deported? Do they want to catch a ride to get their kid to the hospital, or drive and risk being deported? Making it possible for undocumented New Yorkers to apply for licenses will return a bit of dignity to their lives.
RAC-NY's work was made possible with generous seed funding from the Michael & Alice Kuhn Foundation.
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The Brit Olam, covenant with our world, is the primary way Reform Jewish communities are working together to make change. Communities who join the Brit Olam choose from two types of networked social justice work—RAC state projects or issue-based cohorts—to ensure that we, as a movement, are leveraging our collective knowledge, skill, and relationships to make lasting impact on the issues we care about, grounded deeply in the text and tradition that bind us together.