People of Faith United For Immigrants- The Jewish Church

    In keeping with the Torah, the Jewish Church has been steadfast in its pro-immigrant response. “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.” (Leviticus 19:33-34) True to their sacred text, today’s Jewish Church is one of the foremost proponents of real immigration reform. More than their Christian brothers, the Jewish Church has been adept and pro-active in orchestrating interfaith, ecumenical stances on immigration. They serve as an excellent model for all faith communities – people of faith should all be morally outraged by our current unjust immigration laws and proposed border wall. We must unite, as the Jewish Church has already beseeched, to take a stand against an unjust system. As Dr. King would say, “This universe hinges on moral foundations. There is something in the universe that justifies Carlyle in saying, ‘No lie can live forever.’” (The Martin Luther King Autobiography) People of faith must be a voice for the voiceless, a conscience for capitalism, the morals for globalism.

    The document guided by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in 2006 entitled, “INTERFAITH STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM,” lays out in very straightforward terms the call to legislation which humanizes instead of criminalizes immigrants. It follows:

    The Hebrew Bible tells us: “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 (Leviticus 19:33-34).” In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger (cf. Matthew 25:35), for “what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40).” The Qur’an tells us that we should “serve God…and do good to…orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet, [and those who have nothing] (4:36).” The Hindu scripture Taitiriya Upanishad tells us: “The guest is a representative of God (1.11.2)” We call for immigration reform because each day in our congregations, service programs, health-care facilities, and schools we witness the human consequences of an outmoded system. We see and hear the suffering of immigrant families who have lost loved ones to death in the desert or immigrants themselves who have experienced exploitation in the workplace or abuse at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers and others. In our view, changes to the U.S. legal immigration system would help put an end to this suffering, which offends the dignity of all human beings.

    We call upon our elected officials to enact legislation that includes the following:

• An opportunity 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;

• Reforms in our family-based immigration system to significantly reduce waiting times for separated families who currently wait many years to be reunited;

• The creation of legal avenues for workers and their families who wish to migrate to the U.S. to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights fully protected; and

• Border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing the authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and preventing entry of terrorists and dangerous criminals, as well as pursuing the legitimate task of implementing American immigration policy.

While we support the right of the government to enforce the law and protect the national security interests of the United States, we recognize that our existing complex and unworkable immigration system has made it nearly impossible for many immigrants – who seek to support their families or reunite with loved ones – to achieve legal status. Reforming the immigration system to address this reality would allow the U.S. government to focus its enforcement efforts on real threats that face all Americans – citizens and immigrants alike.

    We urge our elected officials to conduct the immigration reform debate in a civil and respectful manner, mindful not to blame immigrants for our social and economic ills or for the atrocities committed by the few who have carried out acts of terrorism. A polarized process that is lacking in civility would hinder deliberative discourse and not serve the best interests of our nation.

    As faith-based leaders and organizations, we call attention to the moral dimensions of public policy and pursue policies that uphold the human dignity of each person, all of whom are made in the image of God. We engage the immigration issue with the goal of fashioning an immigration system that facilitates legal status and family unity in the interest of serving the God-given dignity and rights of every individual. It is our collective prayer that the legislative process will produce a just immigration system of which our nation of immigrants can be proud. <http://tools.isovera.com/organizations/org/InterfaithStatementupdatedJuly2006.pdf>

The Jewish Church should surely be praised for its efforts for the immigrant. In a land where 12 million residents live sin derechos (without rights) and sin esperanza (without hope) of earning legal citizenship, the Jewish Church, the Christian Church, and all people of faith must unite to voice solidarity for the immigrant and demand immigration reform today. In the Holiness Code of the Torah (Leviticus 25), the concept of a year of jubilee is described. The purpose of this year of jubilee was to erase all debts, return land to its original owners, and set free slaves after a period of 49 years. This beautiful symbol of forgiveness and hope has not been practiced for centuries, but people of faith in America have the chance to campaign for a similar “year of jubilee” for immigrants, a path to earned citizenship and a hope for tomorrow.

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