Reform Movement Decries President’s National Emergency Declaration to Build Border Wall

Friday, February 15, 2019

In response to President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border of the U.S., the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement institutions:

We believe that the President’s decision to declare a national emergency to build a border wall is ill-advised and should be revoked. We have consistently stated that the wall is a misguided response to the very real problems in our immigration system, including the real challenges of border security, which warrant comprehensive reform. Whether implemented through congressional or executive action, regular order or emergency declaration, the wall remains an irresponsible plan.

We respect the President’s unique authority, but the declaration of a national emergency when one does not exist circumvents congressional authority and threatens the delicate system of checks and balances that is inherent to a working democracy. The bipartisan compromise legislation passed by the House and Senate, while not perfect, is the path forward. Not only does this declaration undermine the role of Congress, it also sets a dangerous precedent for use of presidential power.

The real crisis at hand is a moral one. The rates of illegal border crossings have been on the decline for decades, there is a lack of evidence linking immigrants and crime rates, and illicit drugs enter the U.S. most often through legal ports of entry. Meanwhile, children remain separated from their families, asylum seekers are denied due process, and DREAMers and holders of “temporary protected status” face uncertainty about their futures. Every day that the administration focuses on a wall instead of comprehensive immigration reform, we fail to address the real challenges in our immigration system.

Throughout the Bible, prophetic voices warn about the abuse of power. The biblical lessons of leadership remain as vital today as they were in ancient times: responsible leadership and the pursuit of justice must go hand in hand. We call on the President to revoke his declaration of emergency powers and instead work together with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, helping build a world of wholeness, justice, and compassion.