Thank you for your coverage of the recent gathering of Jewish and Muslim young leaders to discuss how our two communities can work together to further a more just and equitable immigration system (“Young Jewish, Muslim Leaders Join On Immigration Issues,” March 11).
Unfortunately, the article significantly mischaracterized my statements about the still urgent — and concrete — needs within the Jewish community for favorable immigration laws. As written about in great detail at other times on these pages, Jewish migrants continue to need welcome from U.S. immigration programs, with particular emphasis on Jewish refugees from the Former Soviet Union, Iran and Yemen. HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, plays an important role in serving them and other Jewish migrants at risk elsewhere around the world and in serving asylum seekers who have already arrived in the U.S. from places where anti-Semitism is rampant.
In addition, there are many other crucial immigration needs: for Jewish students coming to study in our universities and yeshivas, for Jews coming to marry their American fiancés, and for Jewish professionals and entrepreneurs who wish to work in this country. In short, with 15 percent of the American Jewish community foreign born, how can we create and maintain programs to help them without ensuring that the U.S.’s broader immigration policy is not efficient, effective, generous and just?
These concrete needs can only be met if we work in tandem with others. The Jewish community’s powerful community relations agenda — whether it concerns Israel, care for the elderly, or other issues — needs allies. We cannot hope to build these crucial ties if we ignore the immigration priorities of our Latino, Muslim, Evangelical, Catholic, and other partners.
As Jews, we share a common fate with all Americans. Passage of smart immigration legislation would play an essential role in creating a vibrant and sustainable economy and in securing our country. The millions of illegal immigrants living in a shadow society must be brought into the light of integration and acculturation. True national security will occur only when we stop wasting precious resources on chasing nannies and gardeners instead of those who would do us harm.
For these and all the reasons we learn from our religious texts and traditions, favorable immigration legislation is a current and pressing need not only for the Jewish community but for all Americans.
President & CEO