Jewish Groups Denounce Latest Trump Administration Crackdown on Immigrants

The guidelines violate 'values of compassion and inclusion that are our nation at its best,' says Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrest a youth in February 2017, in raids aimed at netting immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles.
Charles Reed/AP

Leading Jewish organizations have denounced the Trump administration's new rules on border security and deportations as "deeply problematic" and "misguided."

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The Department of Homeland Security unveiled these rules on Tuesday. With the stated aim of reducing illegal immigration, the rules will facilitate a greater number of deportations.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said Wednesday these guidelines "will likely fail to make our nation more secure even as they surely succeed at violating the values of compassion and inclusion that are our nation at its best."

Pesner added that "as Reform Jews, we understand the importance of welcoming the stranger, as we are taught: 'When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt' (Leviticus 19:33-34 )

The Anti-Defamation League also published a strong-worded statement calling the rules "extremely ill-advised and counter to our values as a nation that has always served as a beacon of hope for people around the world.”

The ADL's CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said: "This step is deeply problematic on many levels. It removes critical due process rights for new immigrants and imperils countless numbers of refugees fleeing extreme violence in Central America.”

Greenblatt added that what the ADL found most concerning was "the efforts to effectively turn local law enforcement officers into de-facto immigration agents.

"That threatens to drive a dangerous wedge between law enforcement and communities they have sworn to serve and protect," Greenblatt said.

HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) announced its intention earlier this month to sue the Trump administration over a travel ban for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. The ban was overruled two weeks ago by a federal court.

HIAS CEO, Mark Hetfield said the latest restrictions would "treat vulnerable people, many of whom are unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, like criminals."