Yearning to Breathe Free: Just and Fair Immigration Reform

Yearning to Breathe FreeOur immigration system is broken, serving neither immigrant families nor the interests of our country, and fixing it is an economic and a moral imperative. Common sense immigration reform is, and should be, a priority for the Jewish community. For many people, our own immigrant stories are still fresh in our family’s collective memory. And the Jewish collective memory speaks to our people as immigrants from the moment Abram was called to “Go forth from your homeland” and down through the millennia.

U.S. immigration law has evolved from a largely open door policy, as reflected in Emma Lazarus’ words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, into a complex and daunting body of restrictions and requirements. While many of our ancestors endured hardship to come here, the overwhelming majority would not have been able to come here at all under today’s immigration laws. 

Today millions of people live, work and raise families in the United States without the protection of basic civil rights or labor protections, without access to many services, and in constant fear of persecution and deportation.

Now we have the opportunity to right decades of wrongs. Bend the Arc is targeting our efforts where we can make the most difference, as social justice advocates, and as Jews.

We support creating a path to citizenship with a reasonable time frame and a fair system to deal with the future flow of immigrants coming to pursue their own chance at the American dream. 

We must ensure that immigration reform legislation includes economic protections for the 11 million people who currently toil in the shadow economy. Minimum wage laws and other worker protections must be enforced, regardless of a worker’s immigration status. This will prevent exploitation by unscrupulous employers and honor the Jewish teaching to treat one’s workers fairly.

We will raise our voices and organize our allies to ensure that immigration reform does not leave same sex couples out in the cold. LGBT Americans should be able to sponsor a spouse or permanent partner in the same way opposite sex couples have long been able to do. It is essential to have faith communities support this in a highly visible way in order to combat those who would claim the mantel of faith and morality to promote injustice and bigotry. Now that section 3 of DOMA has been repealed we will ensure that language within immigration policies stay inclusive of LGBT people so that all Americans will be treated equally when it comes to immigration.

Bend the Arc is lobbying legislators in Washington and organizing locally across the country. In early February, Bend the Arc submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee as it held its first hearing of the new term on immigration. We are working with our partners to develop resounding support from the Jewish community for just and fair immigration reform that is in the best interest of our entire nation.  Join us.

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