Thursday, January 22, 2009

Q and A on Immigration

Q. “As a Jew, why should I care about immigrants?”

A. Our history compels us to stand up for justice, whether it affects us directly or indirectly. Jewish Community Action has long stood by immigrant communities who—much like our own—come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families, oftentimes escaping violence, war, and crushing poverty. We are also commanded in the Torah to welcome and respect the strangers in our midst. Ending raids is good for everyone.

Q. “Are raids really that bad?”

A. Raids harm all of us and affect entire communities. They separate families and violate U.S. laws on due process and humane treatment of residents, whether they are citizens or non-citizens. Raids hurt the U.S. economy, waste tax-payer money, inappropriately use police and attempt to enforce a broken immigration system. This is a human rights issue, not a political one, and we all need to stand up for justice for immigrants. As an organization based in Jewish values, Jewish Community Action holds that raids violate the Torah’s mandate of just treatment of the “stranger who resides with [us].”

Q. “Who is conducting the raids and who can make them stop?”

A. The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). President-Elect Obama can make stop the raids immediately by issuing an executive order.

Q. “But what do we do about our broken immigration system?”

A. We need fair, humane, comprehensive federal immigration reform (CFIR) to protect the rights of all people. CFIR would provide a path to citizenship, emphasize family reunification, legalize future migration, protect human rights, ensure dignity and due process of law, and protect workers and employers. We cannot rely on enforcement only tactics like raids to fix our broken immigration system.

Q. “My Jewish grandparents waited their turn and came here legally, why can’t new immigrants do the same?”

A. Many of our ancestors came to this country when immigration laws were different, and at times they were excluded by U.S. immigration policy. Some of our ancestors also arrived without documents too. Until CFIR is passed, there is virtually no path to legal residency and citizenship available to the majority of new immigrants.

Q. “Why are there so many people coming here now from Mexico and Central and South America?”

A. U.S. trade policy, specifically the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, 1994) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA, 2005), has made it extremely difficult for many people to survive in their home countries. NAFTA and CAFTA have created greater wealth disparity, destroyed agriculture as a means for income, and reduced wages in all countries involved. Economically, U.S. trade policies have proven disastrous for our country’s neighbors to the south and have hurt the U.S. economy as well.

Q. “But wait, I don’t think that the Jewish community should be leading the call to end immigration raids, this directly affects immigrant communities, shouldn’t we let immigrants do this?

A. Jewish Community Action works as an ally with immigrant communities and organizations. The call to end immigration raids is being made by local and national immigrant-led and immigrant rights groups. We are speaking up as Jews, alongside immigrant communities. We know that we can only make change together.

Q. “Now I get it! How do I incorporate immigrants rights into my Pesach seder ?”

A. You can join Jewish Community Action at our 7th annual Immigrant Rights Freedom Seder on March 22, 2009 and use our Immigrant Rights Freedom Seder inserts at your families’ Passover celebration in April (coming soon to the blog)