Tuesday, January 23, 2018
The Central Conference of American Rabbis takes note of Monday’s Congressional action, ratified by the President, to reopen the federal government and reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), with a bipartisan commitment to address the status of Dreamers before February 8.
Reform rabbis celebrate the renewal of CHIP. Assuring access to quality health care for children is a sacred responsibility of any civilized society. Maimonides — the medieval rabbi, physician, and philosopher — demanded even more, requiring every community to assure that health care is available to every citizen.
However, the delay in adopting the Dream Act is of profound concern. The CCAR has long sought permanent status for immigrants who were brought to this country as children. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was never more than a temporary solution, established by Executive Order when Congress failed to act. Dreamers’ uncertain future was imperiled when the President last year announced an end to DACA, effective on March 5, 2018, barring Congressional action.
Torah commands us thirty-six times to be mindful of the heart of the stranger, for we were strangers in Egypt. Reform rabbis therefore advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, affirming the United States as a nation of laws even as we call for opening our hearts and borders to refugees and seek legal remedies to the status of millions of undocumented immigrants, including but not limited to Dreamers.
Dreamers are not strangers. They are our neighbors, members of our Jewish communities, our co-workers, our fellow students, and our friends. The Dream Act must provide a clear path to citizenship for immigrants who have been covered by DACA, their families, and others like them.
We urgently call upon Congress to adopt a clean Dream Act without further delay, and then quickly to proceed to comprehensive immigration reform. Let America reaffirm the commitment enshrined on the Statue of Liberty with the poetry of Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Rabbi David E. Stern Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis