Central Conference of American Rabbis Denounces Inhumane Treatment of Immigrants and Refugees

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Central Conference of American Rabbis deplores the U.S. government’s inhumane detention of men, women, and especially children who are seeking refuge in this “Land of the Free.” Reform rabbis are particularly appalled by the renewal of widespread separations of migrant adults and their children, an abhorrent practice supposedly abandoned nearly a year ago.

Repeatedly, our Torah teaches, “There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you” (e.g., Exodus 12:49). Today, though, immigrants are being subjected to deplorable living conditions that American citizens would never tolerate for ourselves. A June 3, 2019 report from the Department of Homeland Security’s own Inspector General found “nooses in detainee cells, overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, and significant food safety issues.” Some facilities “failed to provide recreation outside detainee housing units” and featured bathrooms described as “dilapidated and moldy.” The Inspector General continues, “At one facility, detainees were not provided appropriate clothing and hygiene items to ensure that they could properly care for themselves.” Most tragic and alarming are the deaths of children that have occurred in these detention facilities.

Reform rabbis are grateful that both Houses of Congress understand the severity of this crisis, and that they adopted legislation to provide humanitarian assistance at the U.S.’s southern border. The House bill is preferable, providing for greater congressional oversight and restricting the expansion of immigrant detention. We urge the Senate to adopt the current House bill and we urge the President to sign the legislation.

Reform rabbis renew our plea for comprehensive immigration reform, reiterated across several decades. We demand an end to frightful threats of mass immigrant round-ups followed by precipitous deportation. We call for an immediate and permanent end to our government’s separation of immigrant children from the adults who accompany them, except in cases that would equally prompt American law to separate citizens from their children. We insist that America can both be a nation of laws and live up to its promise of refuge to the world’s “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

We pray that President Trump and all of our nation’s leaders will come to see that the divine spark resides in every human being. Then, may they adopt policies and practices that protect the lives and human dignity of immigrant men, women, and children.

Rabbi Ronald Segal

Rabbi Steven A. Fox
CCAR Chief Executive

Rabbi Hara Person
Incoming Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis