Reform Jewish Movement Applauds New Protections for Undocumented Immigrants
Washington, D.C., November 20, 2014 – In response to President Obama’s executive action providing new protections for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We applaud President Obama’s announcement of a new executive action on immigration that will remove the threat of deportation for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. Under the executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be expanded, and parents of citizens and legal permanent residents will be allowed to remain in the U.S. so long as these parents have been in the U.S. for at least five years, promising much-overdue relief for millions of families who risk being torn apart by the current provisions of our broken immigration system. We also welcome the end of the Secure Communities program, which has too often led to racial profiling and led immigrant communities to fear law enforcement instead of work with them.
For decades, inspired by the biblical imperative to welcome the stranger and by our own lived experience as immigrants, the Reform Movement has advocated for a more just immigration system. We have urged Congress and the President to work together to achieve comprehensive immigration reform which, among other provisions, addresses the issues of border security, family reunification, the needs of employers and protections for workers. Unfortunately, Congress has not succeeded at passing legislation to send to the President’s desk, despite the fact that Republicans and Democrats have long agreed that legislative action is the best way forward.
The failure of our immigration system is, of course, the result of failures in millions of individual cases. In the past six months, through the inspiring work of Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR), a social justice initiative of the Reform Movement, we have worked to lift up the cases of individuals at risk of deportation and urge that their order of deportation be deferred. We are proud of the successes ROR has had, even as we continue to work on the case of Luis Lopez Acabal, now at risk of deportation after fleeing to the U.S. from Guatemala as a teenager to escape gang violence, and who is the sole breadwinner for his wife and two children. Mr. Lopez Acabal is now receiving sanctuary in an Arizona church basement, out of fear of being deported by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Over 60 of our rabbis have called ICE to ask for a stay of his order of deportation, and you can see a moving video of Luis Lopez Acabal in that church basement:
It is still unclear whether Mr. Lopez Acabal will be covered under the plan announced by President Obama, reminding us that legislation is the only way to truly and comprehensively to fix our immigration system. We hope that the positive impact of today’s executive action on individuals, workers, business owners and the nation in general will spur Congress to pass a comprehensive bill to create real and lasting immigration reform. We remain committed to working to achieve the passage of bipartisan legislation that keeps our borders secure, expands the legal channels of immigration, and provides a path to citizenship for those already living here.