AJC sends letter to the House of Representatives restating principles for immigration reform

November 15, 2013

Dear Member of Congress,

Since its founding in 1906, AJC has been outspoken in support of fair and generous immigration policies. As American Jews, we recall how our parents and grandparents made their way to this country seeking a better life, and know that we have prospered in and contributed to this country. In our time, comprehensive immigration reform will not only allow hard-working immigrants an opportunity to succeed in the United States, for themselves and for future generations, but also strengthen America’s global competitiveness—and, at the same time, promote respect for the rule of law and protect our national security.

In advocating for fair, effective and humane immigration policies, AJC acts in accord with the American Jewish community’s longstanding interest in, and commitment to, a United States immigration and refugee policy that represents our nation’s best traditions. According to Jewish tradition, "strangers" are to be welcomed and valued, as we were once "strangers in the land of Egypt." The Torah tells us: "The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

In June 2013, AJC applauded Senate passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744).This historic legislation has set the stage for a complete overhaul of America’s broken immigration system. AJC also supports the bipartisan H.R.15, counterpart comprehensive immigration legislation in the House of Representatives.We are concerned about the piecemeal immigration legislation that is also being considered, such as the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, H.R. 2278, an expansive bill that ostensibly targets terrorism but that instead has adverse consequences for vulnerable refugees and asylees.

Against this background, AJC calls on the House of Representatives to pass fair and humane common-sense comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes the following principles:

(1) A path to legalization for undocumented immigrants;
(2) A workable future flows program for temporary workers, and permanent fixes to the employment, family and refugee visa categories, that will provide businesses with the workforce they need to compete in a global economy as well as promote family unification;
(3) Provisions for border security and enforcement that are both effective and more humane;
(4) Due process reforms and reform of our detention and asylum system; and
(5) Enhanced resources for integration of immigrants.

Comprehensive immigration reform offers our country a tremendous opportunity to act in accord with its highest values, ensuring fairness and humanity while also being mindful of our nation's security and economic interests. Jewish tradition teaches us that each person is made b’tselem elohim, in the image of G-d.Accordingly, we engage the immigration issue with the goal of fashioning an immigration system that facilitates legal status and family unity in the interest of serving the inherent dignity and rights of every individual, even as it enhances our national security, strengthens our economy, and promotes respect for the rule of law.

Thank you for considering our views on this matter and we look forward to working with your office to pass this important legislation.

Richard T. Foltin
Director of National and Legislative Affairs