Thursday, January 22, 2009

Progress by Pesach to Launch Nationally Jan. 29th, 2009!

Stay tuned for updates on the campaign, info about what Jewish Community Action and our partners across the country are doing, and more.

This is an open blog moderated by Jewish Community Action. Please post articles you read, write or think would be helpful to others. Also, feel free to post information on resources and facts you find, suggested readings, viewings, etc.

To get involved with the campaign, host an event or workshop or tabling for signatures, contact:
email: Lauren Bastien
Vic Rosenthal

Progress by Pesach: A Brief Intro to the Campaign

Jewish Community Action’s

Progress by Pesach

The Jewish Call for Immigration Reform, Not Raids

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord and your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34

Jewish Community Action and our partners across the country invite you to join us in our Progress by Pesach (Hebrew for Passover) campaign. Our goal is simple: an end to immigration raids by Passover.

For Jews, Passover is a time when we celebrate our freedom from bondage, remember when we were strangers in a strange land, and connect our history to modern-day liberation struggles. This is the inspiration behind the campaign name, Progress by Pesach.

Jewish Community Action is echoing the call from local and national immigrant-led and immigrant rights groups to end raids. We are speaking up as Jews, alongside immigrant communities. We know that we can only make change together.

This year, Passover coincides with the end of the Obama Administration’s First 100 Days. We call upon President-elect Obama to issue an executive order ending immigration raids immediately. Ending raids by Passover would demonstrate that real progress has been made toward the long-term goal of fair, humane, comprehensive federal immigration reform and is an important part of supporting immigrants and communities.

Jewish Community Action and our partners will help make this a priority for the Obama Administration by flooding his staff and our Congressional representatives with constituent requests for an end to raids via phone calls, petitions, letters and media.

Our partners include: Local/Regional groups: Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago), Jews United For Justice (D.C.), Progressive Jewish Alliance (L.A./San Francisco), Jews For Racial and Economic Justice (NY), Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern Arizona, National Groups: the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, National Council of Jewish Women, Union for Reform Judaism,

We will mobilize support by hosting educational programs and events, volunteer opportunities, and outreach within the Jewish community.

Want to help?

  • Attend or host a program or workshop at your congregation (we’ll help you!)
  • Participate in an evening or two of phone banking
  • Deliver a D’var at your shul
  • Help us collect petition signatures
  • Help with research and development of educational materials
  • Attend JCA’s Annual Immigrant Right’s Freedom Seder on March 22nd
  • Follow our blog ( - contact lauren if you are interested in posting) and take action on local and national immigration policy (

For more information or to get involved: Vic Rosenthal (,

Lauren Bastien (, 651.632.2184,,,

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)