In the absence of legislation establishing comprehensive immigration reform, Reform Movement congregations are called to take action to protect the lives of undocumented immigrants facing deportation.
Background and Jewish Values
Throughout our history, Reform Movement Congregations have acted as safe-havens for those seeking refuge from persecution and deportation. Today, we face new challenges in addressing the flaws in our immigration system and are called to once again take action!
We are instructed in the Holiness Code to treat the strangers in our midst with justice and compassion:
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
This teaching permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah — the most repeated of any commandment.
Position of the Reform Movement
The Reform Movement supports congregations that already have taken action to protect undocumented immigrants fearing deportation, and encourages others to make a plan within their communities about how to get involved.
On March 30, 2017, the URJ adopted a resolution on Protecting Individuals at Risk of Deportation from the U.S. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) adopted the resolution soon thereafter. As the resolution states:
“Some congregations, after serious discussion within the congregation and with legal counsel, have decided to offer temporary physical shelter to undocumented immigrants facing deportation, recognizing the legal risks of their action. In his challenge to King David, the prophet Nathan offers an exemplary biblical model for confronting a state authority that wields its power unjustly and abusively. To a show of might, Nathan responds with rights, with truth.
“The Union for Reform Judaism celebrates the many ways in which Reform congregations are responding to fix what is broken in the U.S. immigration system and to support undocumented immigrants who are in need [and] recommends that congregations, after discussion within their congregations and with legal counsel, respond to the need to protect the lives and well-being of undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation by adopting a plan that could include one or more of the following: Providing sanctuary in the form of temporary shelter within their facilities; Providing legal assistance to fight deportation cases; and Providing material, financial or educational support.”
Here’s How You Can Help!
The North American Immigrant Justice Campaign is seeking attorneys and non-attorneys in South Florida to assist Americans for Immigrant Justice, Catholic Legal Services, CASA Education & Immigration Services and Justice for Our Neighbors, providing free legal screenings to the community.
As many as 16% of the undocumented community is eligible for immigration relief under existing laws and policies. Yet, they need volunteer attorneys, interpreters and general assistance to help with deportation defense and other services. This is not a huge commitment of time and will give you an opportunity to assist in your community in a manner that is truly helpful.
DO a mitzvah! Please contact Mark Buchbinder at [email protected] or 305.742.5501 for more information.