Jewish Community Action has been consistent in our work for immigrants rights. We are instructed not only by our history, and but also by our text--the Torah commands us 36 times to love, protect, and respect those new to our communities. Furthermore, our faith stresses the importance of family, and compels us to support others in pursuit of better opportunities for their own families in a different land.
"The time is now. Our communities yearn for justice. For family unity. For citizenship. For reform."
-President Obama, January 2013
Since our founding, our immigrant rights work has taken many different forms. We have worked for city separation ordinances that keep local law enforcement from becoming involved in federal immigration law. We have worked to stop raids and to keep families from being torn apart. And we have marched in Postville, Iowa to support a community devastated by inhumane business practices and a broken immigration system.
Currently, our work is focused on a handful of initiatives at both the local and federal levels. Locally, JCA is working to pass a driver’s license initiative that would enable aspiring citizens to drive legally in the state, thus making roads safer for everyone. We are also working with local allies and legislators to make higher education more accessible to immigrant students, many of whom have been raised in the United States yet still lack the documentation necessary for in-state tuition at post-secondary institutions. These efforts, which will undoubtedly include pushing for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, must take place both in Minnesota and at the federal level.
On the national scene, JCA is also working with a coalition of groups to protect the rights of immigrants detained as a result of the Secure Communities Act. The act, passed by Congress, is designed to detain and deport immigrants who commit felonies or other serious crimes, but has been used to target, detain and deport immigrants whose only crime is lacking documentation. This act has created a climate of fear in many Latino communities, and has torn apart countless families. As part of a coalition with allies from civil rights, legal service, and immigrant organizations, as well as county and law enforcement officials, we are working to improve practices surrounding this act, and protect the rights of immigrants and the unity of families.
Finally, JCA supports comprehensive immigration reform measures—such as a pathway to citizenship for undocumented and future immigrants, family reunification, and worker protections—that will offer security and opportunity to millions of immigrants. Having worked on immigrant rights for well over a decade, we are extremely encouraged by recent indications from both President Obama and the U.S. Senate that real change is finally within reach. We are prepared to work with local and national partners, and the strong Jewish community of the Twin Cities, to make sure that, as a nation, we do not miss this unique opportunity to reform a broken system into a system that works for all immigrants, all families, and all Americans.