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 the country. 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 comprehensive reform of our immigration system based on streamlined processing, a commitment to obey the rule of law, payment of taxes owed, family reunification, and a path to citizenship.
Comprehensive immigration reform must include:
• Reforms in our family-based immigration system to significantly reduce waiting times for separated families, who currently must wait many years to be reunited with loved ones, and to reunite all family-members including siblings, children, parents and spouses;
• Border protection policies that are consistent with American humanitarian values and effective against illegal migration, allowing the authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and preventing entry into the United States of terrorists and dangerous criminals;
• Opportunities for hard-working immigrants who are already contributing to this country to come out of the shadows, regularize their status upon satisfaction of reasonable criteria and, over time, pursue an option to become lawful permanent residents and eventually United States citizens;
• Wage and workplace protections for those already living in America and contributing to our economy and for those who migrate here;
• Legal avenues for both high- and low-skilled professionals and their families who wish to migrate to the U.S. to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner that meets the needs of employers.
Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. Our faith demands of us concern for the stranger 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]. This principle permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah – the most repeated of any commandment. 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.
In June 2013, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) with a vote of 68-32 . This legislation was the result of long negotiations by a bipartisan “Gang of 8” Senators, and represents important progress toward achieving the comprehensive reform that is long overdue. We are encouraged by many of the key provisions in the Senate’s bill. A path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants here today, a renewed commitment to clearing systemic backlogs, a plan for processing future flow of immigrants, and a reasonable approach to enforcement are all cornerstones of the Reform Movement’s immigration priorities, and we are pleased to see such policies reflected in the Senate’s legislation. It is essential that legislation that moves through the House of Representatives contains similar protections and provisions.
Urge your Representatives to support immigration reform that is truly comprehensive, and that reflects our values as Americans and as Reform Jews. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.