Press Release

JDCA condemns the separation of families at the border

June 18, 2018

Signs Jewish Community Letter Condemning Trump’s Immigration Policy

The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) has added its name to a letter to Attorney General Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen co-signed by many of the leading American Jewish organizations condemning President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy separating families at the border. A statement by JDCA Executive Director Halie Soifer is enclosed below, along with the text of the letter.

“The Jewish Democratic Council of America is horrified by reports of children being forcibly separated from their parents on our borders. American Jews know all too well the horrific consequences of excessively restrictive immigration policies, and of inhumane treatment of those seeking protection. We expect our government to pursue policies that adhere to the values of our country, and respect the dignity of those seeking to live among us. The egregiously painful policy of ripping children from their parents conjures images of the darkest moments in our history, which we have collectively vowed to never allow again.

“President Trump’s immigration policy is inconsistent with international law protecting asylum seekers, and antithetical to Democratic and Jewish values. His cynical exploitation and use of innocent children as a political pawn in our national immigration debate is a cruel betrayal of such values. Make no mistake – forced family separation is an unconscionable and inhumane immigration policy devised and implemented by President Trump, and we implore him and Republicans in Congress to bring it to an immediate end.”

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen,

On behalf of the undersigned national Jewish organizations and institutions, we write to express our strong opposition to the recently expanded “zero-tolerance” policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border. This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people.

As Jews, we understand the plight of being an immigrant fleeing violence and oppression. We believe that the United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat the stranger reflects on the moral values and ideals of this nation.

Many of these migrant families are seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence in Central America. Taking children away from their families is unconscionable. Such practices inflict unnecessary trauma on parents and children, many of whom have already suffered traumatic experiences. This added trauma negatively impacts physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of early death.

Separating families is a cruel punishment for children and families simply seeking a better life and exacerbates existing challenges in our immigration system. It adds to the backlog of deportation cases and legal challenges in federal courts, places thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and shelters, endangers the lives of more children, and instills additional fear in people seeking safety in our country. In addition, those seeking asylum or other legal protection face numerous obstacles to making a claim, especially from detention. Separating family members at the border would force families into two or more immigration cases instead of a single case for each family, harming their ability to present a successful case.

Our Jewish faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just. We urge you to immediately rescind the “zero tolerance” policy and uphold the values of family unity and justice on which our nation was built.

Academy for Jewish Religion
American Committee for Shaare Zedek
American Conference of Cantors
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
American Jewish World Service
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Be’chol Lashon
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Eitzah Center for Congregational Leadership
Habonim Dror North America
Hadar Institute
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
International Association of Women in Radio and Television-USA
International Rabbinic Fellowship
J Street
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance
Jewish Women International
jGirls Magazine
Men of Reform Judaism
National Association of Jewish Legislators
National Council of Jewish Women
Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC)
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
New York Board of Rabbis
NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement
Orthodox Union
Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbinical Council of America
Reconstructing Judaism
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Sephardic Heritage International DC (SHIN DC)
The Association of Rabbis & Cantors
The Cantors Assembly
The Center for Jewish Ethics at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
The Detroit National Center for Civil Discourse
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
The Shalom Center
The Workmen’s Circle
Tikkun Magazine
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Uri L’Tzedek, The Orthodox Social Justice Movement
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism