Rabbinic group calls for 'sober response to immigration crisis'

As US immigration crisis heats up, US Jewish group praises proposal by Senator Ted Cruz, says end to Obama-era policy was necessary.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz

An American Jewish organization has condemned the Obama-era policy under which large numbers of illegal immigrants who infiltrated across the southern border in the US were not prosecuted for the illegal entry, and lauded a proposal by Senator Ted Cruz to resolve issues presented by full enforcement of the law.

Prior to mid-April, the US federal government exercised discretion in the application of infiltration laws, declining to prosecute many illegal immigrants who entered the US outside of recognizing crossing points.

A decision by the Justice Department to begin full enforcement of the law in April dramatically increased the number of illegal migrants being prosecuted who crossed into the US with their families.

Since minors cannot be prosecuted in this case, law enforcement officials have classified the children as unaccompanied minors after their parents have been detained.

Media outlets have played up the temporary transfer of some 2,000 illegal immigrant children to children’s shelters and foster homes as “family separation”.

The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have called for changes to the federal code, which would end the necessity for the temporary family separations.

Democrats, however, have claimed the much-publicized separations highlight the problems with the Trump administration’s full enforcement of immigration laws, calling for a restoration to the Obama-era policy of discretionary application of the law.

On Tuesday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced the drafting of a new bill which aimed at avoiding the family separations, without a return to the status quo ante.

“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop. Now,” Cruz said in a statement.

Under the bill proposed by Cruz, the US would double the number of immigration judges, establish a number of temporary family shelters to allow those families detained for illegally immigrating to be held together, and a clause requiring illegal immigrant families to be kept together, barring any threat to the children.

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, lauded Cruz’s proposal, and rejected demands by other Jewish groups that the US end the policy of full enforcement of the border laws.

“We commend Senator Ted Cruz for proposing a workable solution to this crisis. The previous policy left children vulnerable to trafficking, abuse, and being held for months without their parents. So the answer is not to blame the current administration, to simply return to previous, failed policy, or to join with left-wing groups anxious to exploit this crisis for partisan purposes. Senator Cruz has suggested a sincere, sober response, and we call for speedy consideration of his and other proposals to keep families together while also protecting children from abuse.”

Rav Schonfeld cited reports indicating that under previous guidelines, "thousands of Central American children... [were left] vulnerable to traffickers and to abuses," and that "young Mexicans [were] being held for months without charge... sometimes without their parents’ knowledge."

Rabbi Dov Fischer, West Coast Regional Vice President of the CJV, added:

“For those of us serving as synagogue rabbis, whose congregants look to national organizations to tell them what is kosher, it is dismaying that two prominent organizations chose to join in a statement with radical Jewish groups whose values are antithetical to our own and whose negative reaction to anything coming from this administration is as certain as the sun rising in the East. We commend those such as Agudath Israel of America and the 1000-strong Rabbinical Alliance of America for representing the independence of the Orthodox Jewish community.”

Earlier this week, the Orthodox Union signed on to a letter supported by the Reform and Conservative movements condemning the Justice Department policy.

“This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people,” the open letter says. “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.”