Faith leaders will protest humanitarian crises affecting immigrants, asylum seekers
Next week, Reform rabbis from across the country will lead a pilgrimage to the U.S. border with Mexico to call attention to three ongoing crises near the border: The asylum seekers languishing on the El Paso-Juarez bridge, teenagers confined to a tent city surrounded by barbed wire in Tornillo, and the humanitarian crisis in El Paso, Texas, where immigrants and refugees are being released randomly with no access to support or resources. The Let Our Families Go pilgrimage represents a bold new effort to mobilize faith communities (particularly Jewish faith communities) around the issues of immigrant justice and human rights.
“The increased militarization of our borders and zero-tolerance policies have created the conditions for this humanitarian disaster affecting immigrants and asylum seekers,” said Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp, rabbi at Temple Sholom in Cincinnati, Ohio. “These policies violate every principle of decency, justice and compassion that we hold as Jews. We are making this sacred journey to call on our government to stop the unacceptable practice of imprisoning immigrant minors and ensure protection for those seeking refuge within our borders.”
The rabbis will travel in three groups, departing from Ann Arbor, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; and Sacramento, California on November 12, with stops in Indianapolis and St. Louis for rallies and meetings, and finally converging in El Paso on November 15. Upon arriving in El Paso, the group will participate in an action of prophetic witness that will call attention to the injustices taking place on the border and travel to Tornillo, Texas, demonstrating solidarity between the Jewish community and the immigrants suffering these outrages.
“Every day, we see in our community the painful suffering of immigrant families and asylum seekers, who want nothing more than the chance for a safe and dignified future,” said Rabbi Ben Zeidman, rabbi at Temple Mount Sinai in El Paso.
“We, as people of faith, stand for the reunification of children with parents or guardians regardless of immigration status,” said Rabbi Josh Whinston, rabbi at Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, Michigan and co-chair of Let Our Families Go. “The time has to bring an end to the outrageous practices that keep asylum seekers and immigrant teens mired in desperate poverty or locked in prison camps. This pilgrimage is a fulfillment of our obligation as religious leaders to support the most vulnerable among us, and an acknowledgement of the immigrant identity embedded in our own Jewish heritage.”
The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) will be represented in El Paso by its Board member, Rabbi Barry Block of Congregation B’nai Israel in Little Rock, Arkansas.
For more information about Let Our Families Go or to connect with participating rabbis, please contact Elliot Levy at Elliot.firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-800-7409.