Bridging America Project

Building Latino-Jewish relations and advancing support for immigration reform.

Both Jews and Latinos cannot afford any longer to lead separate lives. Based on present realities but impelled by the force of their historic encounters, both communities need each other’s support to advance their common and individual agendas.
– Dina Siegel Vann, Director, The Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, AJC

To sustain a pluralistic yet socially cohesive America, it is critically important that the United States develop sensible policy responses to the challenges posed by immigration.”
– David Harris, Executive Director, AJC


Building and Strengthening Latino-Jewish Relations

As two communities with rich immigrant legacies, Jews and Latinos are natural allies in fighting for reforms that secure a fair, just, and inclusive society for all groups in America. By ensuring a robust relationship between Latinos and Jews we strengthen the effort to achieve those goals for the country.


Latino-Jewish Workshops

AJC holds workshops for Latino and Jewish leaders with the goal of building relationships that foster mutual understanding, enhance coalitional readiness for advocacy, and create awareness of the core values and concerns of each group. Workshops focus attention on issues that are common to both groups, such as immigration, while aiming to develop enduring partnerships.


Latino-Jewish Leadership Forum

High-level leaders of Latino and Jewish communities throughout the country convene in Washington DC to build the next chapter of our collaborative relationship. Opportunities for expanded interaction include an exploration of the state of Latino-Jewish relations, Diaspora-Homeland interactions, foreign policy issues and a conversation with the bi-partisan Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus.


Latino-Jewish Interfaith Leadership Program

This ground breaking program focuses on initiating and developing positive relations among Latino and Jewish clergy, as significant and influential leaders of their respective communities. Designed to build understanding of respective religious teachings, history and communal structures, it is also intended to identify shared values and break down stereotypes while strengthening commitments by Latino and Jewish clergy to assert leadership on social justice issues including immigration.


Diaspora Community Roundtables

One of the most prevalent commonalities between Latinos and Jews is their transnational sense of identity with close connections to their original homelands. These roundtables are designed to provide space for exploration by top Latino and Jewish leaders of diaspora issues affecting each community. By examining our multiple identities and the obligations that that arise from those linkages, we deepen knowledge, build understanding and promote support for each other’s core concerns.


Broadening the Base of Support for Immigration Reform

AJC affirms that immigration reform is in the best interest of America’s economy, security and values. As its signature contribution to the immigration debate, the Bridging America Project engages leaders from mainstream sectors of society (including business, labor, education, healthcare, faith and law enforcement) to form coalitions of “unlikely allies” in support of fair and pragmatic immigration reform.


Task Forces

In cities around the country, Bridging America Task Forces convene, connect and engage new and experienced voices from mainstream sectors that can bring additional access and new political power to policy makers, influence the public debate, and promote, support and enable the passage of immigration reform.


Statewide Compacts

AJC and its partners work with leaders in business, faith and law enforcement to enlarge the base of support for immigration reform by designing statements of principles to guide the discussion around immigration. Based on the successful Utah Compact, these documents are values-based and customized to capture the essence of each state.


Houston Summit 2012

The Cost Savings from Implementing Immigration Reform examined the positive economic impact of changes in five key sectors: social services, health care, law enforcement, education and business. Over 300 diverse stakeholders impacted by the U.S. immigration system attended the one-day conference co-sponsored by AJC's Bridging America Project and Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.


Conference speakers presented new data on the cost savings that would result from the sensible implementation of immigration reform. Deacon Joe Rubio, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, reviewed the impact on the budgets and resource limitations of the non-profit community. David Lopez, CEO, Harris County Hospital District, assessed the system’s costly inefficiencies. Alberto P. Cardenas, Jr., attorney for Vincent & Elkins and chairman of the Harris County Sheriff's Office 287G advisory committee, examined security concerns. Juliet Stipeche, board member, Houston Independent School Distirct, discussed creating a system of education for all, while recognizing the emotional impact on students and families who are living in fear. Larry Kellner, chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership and former CEO of Continental Airlines, analyzed the impact on unemployment and loss of tax revenues.


National Immigration Summit 2011

As the culmination of the first two years of AJC’s Bridging America Project, a diverse group of high-level stakeholders came together for an exciting and dynamic conference, Building a Bridge to the Future: A Summit for Stakeholders on Immigration Reform. AJC sponsored and organized the summit in cooperation with National Immigration Forum, ImmigrationWorks USA and Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The co-sponsoring organizations represented a wide spectrum of political persuasions and this set the tone for a program with a broad and inclusive scope.

The summit convened 120 influential leaders from across the country to strengthen their network, find common ground and consider new strategies for immigration advocacy. The invited participants came from 14 states and the District of Columbia representing a variety of professional sectors, communities and political beliefs. Among them were alumni of Bridging America Project workshops and regional task forces, including leaders of business, labor, law enforcement, health care, education, ethnic and religious groups, as well as immigration advocates and AJC lay leaders – all of whom have a stake in the immigration debate.

The intensive summit program was designed to address the issue of immigration by examining three central themes – economics, security and values. More than 30 policy experts, advocates, strategists and government officials covered a wide range of perspectives on the issue. Over the course of two days, there were presentations, panel discussions and break-out sessions on topics ranging from history to demographics to communication strategies.

For more information, contact Ellen Carmell at