Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Call your elected officials to stop family separations for Asylum Seekers

Dear Friends,

We have all be moved by the human pain of family separations in the detention centers at the U.S. border in recent days.  

Regardless of laws and politics, the separation of children from parents without due process raises in our memory and consciousness Jewish horrors from a different time and place.  Regardless of reason or purpose behind the policy debate, as Jews we are unwilling to accept the outcome that we are seeing.

To that end, the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, and all arms of the Conservative movement have joined 26 Jewish organizations and other religious groups in condemning the cruel and unconscionable policy of separating children from their parents seeking asylum in the United States. We are horrified by the heart-wrenching pictures of children being torn from the arms of their parents and put into prison detention of any kind, and of the credible reports of tent cities going up in 100-degree heat to accommodate hundreds of these children.
The presumption of guilt for all undocumented entries into the United States at the border is an abrogation of constitutional process that all are innocent until proven guilty.  Those seeking asylum have committed no crime, and to presume so is against our core principles.  To then use that false presumption to take children from the protective arms of parents is unconscionable. 
I urge all of our members to call your elected leaders, the Attorney General, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House to protest. Their numbers are listed below.
White House, (202) 456-1111
Attorney General Jeff Session’s office, (202) 514-2000
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s office, (202) 282-8000
Senator Robert Menendez
Washington office: (202) 224-4744, New Jersey office: (973) 645-3030
Senator Cory Booker
Washington office: (202) 224-3224, New Jersey office: (973) 639-8700
Rep. Josh Gottheimer – 5th District
Washington office: (202) 225-4465, New Jersey office: (201) 389-1100
Rep. Leonard Lance – 7th District
Washington office: (202) 225-5361, New Jersey office: (908) 518-7733
Rep. Albio Sires – 8th District
Washington office: (202) 225-7919, New Jersey office: (201) 309-0301
Rep. Donald Payne Jr. – 10th District
Washington office: (202) 225-3436, New Jersey office: (973) 645-3213
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen – 11th District
Washington office: (202) 225-5034, New Jersey office: (973) 984-0711
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman – 12th District
Washington office: (202) 225-5801, New Jersey office: (609) 883-0026

Recognizing that a genuine policy debate is under way, I implore you to exercise your voice on behalf of family unity for all asylum seekers to our country.  We as a people, more than any other, can not allow such an outcome.


Rabbi Robert L. Tobin

Stop Taking Children from Border Detainees

June 12, 2018

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen,

On behalf of the 26 undersigned national Jewish organizations and institutions, we write to express our strong opposition to the recently expanded “zero-tolerance” policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border. This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people.

As Jews, we understand the plight of being an immigrant fleeing violence and oppression. We believe that the United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat the stranger reflects on the moral values and ideals of this nation.

Many of these migrant families are seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence in Central America. Taking children away from their families is unconscionable. Such practices inflict unnecessary trauma on parents and children, many of whom have already suffered traumatic experiences. This added trauma negatively impacts physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of early death.1

Separating families is a cruel punishment for children and families simply seeking a better life and exacerbates existing challenges in our immigration system. It adds to the backlog of deportation cases and legal challenges in federal courts, places thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and shelters, endangers the lives of more children, and instills additional fear in people seeking safety in our country. In addition, those seeking asylum or other legal protection face numerous obstacles to making a claim, especially from detention. Separating family members at the border would force families into two or more immigration cases instead of a single case for each family, harming their ability to present a successful case.

Our Jewish faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just.

We urge you to immediately rescind the “zero tolerance” policy and uphold the values of family unity and justice on which our nation was built.


American Conference of Cantors
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
American Jewish World Service Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Bend the Arc
Jewish Action Central Conference of American Rabbis
Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Women International
Men of Reform Judaism
National Association of Jewish Legislators
National Council of Jewish Women
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructing Judaism
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
The Workmen's Circle
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Uri L'Tzedek, The Orthodox Social Justice Movement
Women of Reform Judaism