September 24, 2021
The Central Conference of American Rabbis is appalled by the hasty deportation of some 1,400 Haitian migrants and asylum seekers. Many of these people left Haiti in the wake of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, finding homes and work in Central and South America, before walking across Mexico in the hope of finding greater opportunity in the United States. Now, without due process, they have been deported to a country they barely know, and which is in no condition to receive them, following recent political turmoil and yet another deadly earthquake, followed by a devastating tropical storm.
We are horrified, too, by scenes of United States mounted immigration officers, apparently using their horses’ bodies and their reins as whips to force Haitian migrants and asylum seekers across the Rio Grande River into Mexico.
As we celebrate in our Sukkot this week, our attention is drawn to the fragility that characterizes the homes and lives of far too much of the human family. From its beginnings, Haiti has known a disproportionate share of that fragility. Forcibly returning migrants and asylum seekers to Haiti is a cruel and unconscionable act by the Biden Administration, particularly absent any determination that the deportees pose any danger to the United States.
Because of the pandemic, the walls of many of our Sukkot this year are more open than usual, reminding us of the tent of Abraham and Sarah, which, according to our Sages, was open on all four sides, ever ready to receive guests.[i] The North American Jews among us are grateful that the “tents” of the United States and Canada were open when generations of Jews before us sought refuge and opportunity here. We seek the same for Haitians and others who want nothing more than our own immigrant forbears.
The CCAR demands that President Biden and his Administration immediately stop deporting Haitian migrants and asylum seekers without due process. We further call for a full investigation of the actions of mounted border police, followed by discipline of wrongdoers and prosecution of those who broke the law while purporting to enforce it.
America must live up to the promise engraved on the Statue of Liberty, inviting the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”[ii]
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass
Rabbi Hara E. Person
Central Conference of American Rabbis
[i] Genesis Rabbah 48.
[ii] Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus.