FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2021
WASHINGTON - In response to the Biden-Harris administration’s executive orders and proposed legislative package to restore and reform the immigration system and refugee resettlement program, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and wider Reform Movement:
The Biden administration’s prioritization of immigration reform is an urgently needed redress for the damage done to human lives and America’s moral standing by years of harsh enforcement-only immigration policies. We welcome in particular the administration’s plan to stabilize the status of DACA recipients, hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who have been at risk of deportation.
As the Reform Movement, we have been proud to stand with the most vulnerable people living among us: undocumented immigrants, immigrant youth, asylum seekers, refugees, unaccompanied children and separated families, low-income immigrants, Black immigrants, and more. Today, we celebrate the action taken by the Biden administration to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, including DACA recipients; to increase refugee admissions; to support family reunification; and to strengthen and humanize border security. We also celebrate what this legislative proposal symbolizes: a renewed appreciation for the ways in which the United States is strengthened by the contributions of immigrants.
For much of the last half-century, immigration reform efforts were bipartisan, and we were proud to work with elected officials on both sides of the aisle, most recently during the 2013 reform effort. We hope that tradition resumes with the 117th Congress. It is essential that immigration policies protect the nation’s security, meet the needs of employers, and ensure just and humane treatment of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. What the new administration has done today is set a standard that we will work to hold them and the new Congress accountable to.
No less than 36 times, the Torah instructs us on how to treat the ger, the foreigner among us. God commands, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34). Guided by this repeated injunction to love the stranger, the Reform Jewish Movement has long been committed to fixing our broken immigration system and ensuring just and compassionate immigration policies. Today was a good first step in doing so.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.RAC.org for more.