Immigration is the Jewish Question of Today

May 12, 2014

by Sidney Hollander
JCUA Board Member

Sidney Hollander

Sidney Hollander

It was a week before the beginning of Pesach. I was marching from 101 West Congress to 1901 South Ashland along with about 150 other opponents of the Draconian deportations that are now terrorizing immigrant communities: 2 million deportations in the five years of the Obama administration. “Two million too many,” we chanted. “Not one more.” “Deportations’ got to go.”

Thoughts of throwing off the chains of oppression in Pharaoh’s Egypt come readily to mind, for immigration is a fundamentally Jewish question.

“Welcome the stranger,” God tells us, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Over the centuries we have all too often lived as unwelcome strangers, and, unwelcomed, have all too often had to leave in search of refuge that has not always been forthcoming, in a world that would not welcome Jews. The Nazi genocide, including the closed doors of the American state, is only the most recent, although probably the most horrific, instance.

This was the first leg of a larger and longer march that started at a place of bondage, the local headquarters of the federal deportation agency that has been preying upon immigrant communities with ever increasing cruelty over the past decade. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is aptly named, for it does have a heart of ice, invoking memories of Pharaoh’s hardened heart that stood between the ancient Israelites and their freedom. Starting from the seat of oppression at 101 West Congress, this first leg was heading for a long-standing place of welcoming, safety and support, St. Pius V Catholic Church, at 19th Street and Ashland Avenue.

‘As a Jew, I find this very troubling.’

Read the rest of this entry »


Bring Immigration Justice Into Shavuot #Torah Study

May 7, 2014

Forty nine days after the holiday of Passover comes the holiday of Shavuot. If on Passover we are meant to recall and relive the experience of redemption from oppression, servitude and injustice then on Shavuot we are meant to recall how we catalyze that experience for real change and good. Passover is the life-altering moment and Shavuot is the day after. For centuries Jewish communities have utilized Shavuot as an opportunity for all night study and reflection. This tradition still continues and people all over the Chicagoland area will be participating in either formal programs or informal learning on the night of the holiday.

text study image

Download The Text Study

JCUA has prepared a unique text study guide that you can use to enhance your Shavuot learning and to bring the topic of immigration justice alive through the Jewish tradition.

Since 2008 more than two million individuals have been deported from the country. These people are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and loved ones. Families have been torn apart and people are crying out in pain and despair. This is an issue that directly impacts our city as families throughout Chicago have experienced the terror of detention and deportation.

We hope that this text study guide will be an educational resource to share broadly on how this issue is a deeply Jewish issue, rooted in the very foundational texts of the Jewish faith.

Please let us know how you used this study guide, we would love to hear your feedback!


From Immigration to Gun Violence: JCUA Stands with Families Torn Apart

April 29, 2014

In the past five years nearly two million individuals have been deported from the United States. Fathers and mothers taken from children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins separated from their families. The trauma of loss and disconnection profoundly felt as people grapple with the disappearance of those closest to them.

Two million is too many!

We are standing together with our partners throughout the Chicagoland area and demanding the end to deportations. The voice of each individual experiencing detention and deportation can become silenced by the system that overwhelms them. However, when we all come together and demand change that collective voice cannot be silenced.

May 1st, JCUA is joining with our partners to march from Haymarket Square (175 N. Desplaines) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (101 W. Congress Pkwy). Please join us beginning at 3 pm and declare that we will no longer accept as normal that families should be torn apart by a broken immigration system.

Later that evening continuing our focus on families torn apart we turn our attention to the horrible plague of gun violence. We will join together with our community partner, Fierce Women of Faith, for an important mother-son dialogue about the challenges of parenthood and the forces that would turn the young men in communities throughout Chicago to a life of violence and death. Please join us in the evening on May 1st from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at DuSable Museum. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

128 years ago as people peacefully demonstrated for an eight hour workday in Haymarket Square that would enable parents to spend more time with their children a bomb was thrown and the lives of at least 11 people were ended. 125 years later through both the devastation and gun violence and an unjust immigration system millions of people have been ripped away from their families and lives have been destroyed. Join JCUA at either one or both of these events on May 1st as we stand together for families.

Details of the Events:

(1) “Two Million, Too Many” Immigration March

Haymarket Square (175 N. Desplaines) at 3 pm marching to the office of ICE (101 W. Congress Pkwy)

(2) “Question Bridge: Black Males – Mother to Son: A Frank Discussion and Letters of Love”

6:30 pm at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance on the museum website.


Chicago Father in Deportation Granted 6 Month Stay of Removal

March 6, 2014

Because of his activism with Undocumented Illinois, the Immigrant Youth Justice League, Organized Communities Against Deportation, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and other immigrant justice organizations, Anibal Fuentes will remain in Chicago to see his son turn one. Anibal continues to fight for permanent relief and for President Obama to stop all deportations and will share his story at Chicago’s 5th National Coming Out of the Shadows Day. 

Screen-shot-2014-01-12-at-10.41.08-PMChicago, IL – Yesterday afternoon, Anibal Fuentes received the news that the Chicago immigration office granted him a 6 month stay of removal, until September 2014.

His first thought was about his son: “I am relieved. I get to celebrate my son’s first birthday.” But he said the temporary stay is bittersweet and leaves him in limbo. “But what happens after that? Will I see him grow up?” Anibal is also still under supervision and required to wear an ankle bracelet.

Anibal Eligio Fuentes-Aguilar  was placed in immigration detention after immigration officials raided his building on the in the north side of Chicago. He has a 6-month old baby, Franky, who is a US citizen. Anibal  has no criminal record, and was only placed into immigration custody due to his first encounter with border patrol over 5 years ago.

Meanwhile, Anibal will continue to organize alongside local groups. This Saturday, he will be one of the people sharing his story at Chicago’s 5th National Coming Out of the Shadows Day.

Along with other Chicago families facing deportation, Anibal will be calling attention to the mass number of deportations taking place under President Obama.

“I wonder if President Obama knows what it feels like to be separated from your family, taken to detention, and not know if you’ll see your children again. He can do something for our families and stop the raids and deportations,” Anibal said.


A JCUA Board Member Explains: Why I Decided To Break The Law

November 6, 2013

by Sidney Hollander
JCUA Board Member

On Wednesday, November 6, 2013 JCUA board members, staff, and lay leaders will participate in an act of civil disobedience, in protest of ongoing deportations that are tearing apart immigrant families and in a call to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. 125 people will block streets surrounding the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Building in downtown Chicago, and thousands more will serve as witnesses. Sidney Hollander is a JCUA board member, past president of the board, and a member of JCUA’s Immigrant Justice Action Team.

Sidney Hollander

Sidney Hollander

I do not undertake civil disobedience lightly.  Law is a foundation of civilization, and is absolutely central to Judaism.  Jews are commanded to welcome the stranger.  The commandment is repeated more than thirty times, the most of any commandment in the Hebrew bible.

Unfortunately, for nearly four years the U.S. government has operated in flagrant disregard of that commandment, visiting a reign of terror on 11 million families who seek only to live peacefully and productively in their adopted country.

We are all dragged into this regime of discrimination and deportations.  We depend on immigrant labor but refuse to grant enough visas.  Worse, we then pretend that we bear no responsibility for the presence of undocumented workers among us.

I can no longer take refuge in the self-deception that blinds us to the terrible injustices perpetrated by our government.  We need fundamental reform of our immigration system.  Until it is enacted I will feel obligated to interfere with the “normal” life that is built on this hypocrisy and these injustices.

We can do better.  My small act of civil disobedience is a call to all of us to rediscover our humanity and welcome the stranger among us, as we are commanded.

—————

immigration group photo 1

In photo (left to right):
Maria Medina, Sidney Hollander,
Rebecca Katz, Peggy Slater.

Participants in the civil disobedience on behalf of JCUA include: Peggy Slater (JCUA Board President), Sidney Hollander (JCUA Board), Maria Medina (Chair of JCUA’s Immigrant Justice Action Team), and Rebecca Katz (JCUA’s Director of Teen Programs).

Other Jewish community leaders attending the rally include: Rabbi Fredrick Reeves (KAM Isiah Israel), Rabbi David Russo (Anshe Emet), Rabbi Brant Rosen (Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation), Kalman Resnick (immigration attorney and JCUA lay leader), and students from Chicagoland Jewish High School.


The Family Immigration Stories of Six Jewish U.S. Representatives (And Why One Of Them Got Arrested)

October 24, 2013

The U.S. Senate passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation in June 2013. Since then, this important legislation has been stuck in the House of Representatives. So we decided to highlight the immigration stories behind the members of the House.

Rep. Schakowsky arrested (10/8/13)

Rep. Schakowsky arrested (10/8/13)

As a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, JCUA partnered with Jewish organizations around the country to compile the family immigration stories of six Jewish U.S. Representatives, including Illinois’ Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District).

JCUA interviewed Rep. Schakowsky in summer 2013 for this project. She said:

My grandmother and grandfather were able to do just what they wanted which was to get a better life for themselves and their children. Those are the opportunities that I want for the immigrants today.

(Read the stories of six Jewish U.S. Representatives here)

On October 8, 2013 Rep. Schakowsky participated in an action of civil disobedience, to highlight the urgency of passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform. When reflecting on why she decided to get arrested that day, she wrote:

As someone who represents one of the most diverse districts in Illinois with a large immigrant populations representing countries in every corner of the globe, I have seen firsthand the consequences of our broken immigration system — families tragically separated, workers unfairly and dangerously exploited, young people denied opportunities to serve their country, and the stress of living with the constant fear of deportation. Immigration reform is for those thousands of people in my district and the millions of people across the country who want nothing more than to work hard, provide for their families, and reach for the American Dream.

But immigration reform is important not just for the 11 million people living in the shadows without documentation. It would significantly boost our overall economy. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, enactment of the bipartisan Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill would reduce the deficit by $850 billion, and would increase economic growth by an estimated 3.3 percent in 2023.

As I sat in the police station and looked around at all the people who were expressing their commitment to changing a hopelessly broken law through their civil disobedience, I was proud to join them. As a first generation American myself, I know that comprehensive immigration reform is good for our country. I know it will reduce our deficit, grow out economy, reaffirm our values, advance our ideals, and honor our history as a nation of immigrants. It’s time for a vote.


Hineni Video Urges Jews to Commit to Immigration Reform

September 12, 2013

As Jews around the world gather for Yom Kippur, they will hear the Hineni prayer. “Hineni” means “here I am.” We understand it to be the Jewish response to being called into action.

It’s also the theme of a new video supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform just released by the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, of which JCUA is a partner. The Roundtable says:

“In this moment, every American of every background has an opportunity to stand up and say, ‘Hineni. Here I am.'”

Watch the video, then click a link to use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to pledge your ongoing support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Barack Obama Hineni Video

The “Hineni” video features a speech about immigration reform by President Barack Obama, illustrated by historical photos of Jews taking action to repair the world.


CIR Campaign Update: House Republicans Warming Up to Immigration Reform

July 31, 2013

July 31, 2013citizenship yes

By Ione Barrows, Community Organizing Intern

The Republicans in the House of Representatives are receiving pressure from constituents and donors to pass immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. The month of August will be important for urging Republican legislators to take action.

Last week, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) drew criticism from both sides of the aisle after his hateful comment about the children of undocumented immigrants. Bigotry is never welcome news, especially coming from our political leadership. But this incident has a silver lining: King’s remark highlights an increasing distance between rank-and-file Republicans and anti-immigration extremists. The latter continue to bluster, but it has become clear their position is far from ubiquitous in Congress. Speaker John Boehner denounced King’s remark: “What he said does not reflect the values of the American people of the Republican Party,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

At the beginning of June, when Illinois Representative Peter Roskam joked that passing CIR in the House was “a pipe dream,” the Republican party seemed unified in their resolve to block immigration reform. But lately more conservatives are understanding the vast economic benefits of an immigration system overhaul. For example, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) has just come out in support of immigration reform. In an interview with the National Journal, Ryan made the case for immigration reform for economic reasons: “We want to go toward an immigration system where we’re bringing people into the country to contribute and to pay taxes, start businesses, and work. That is good for economic growth…Most Republicans agree that legal immigration…is good for the economy and good for the country.” This is an unexpected show of support coming from a Congressman who has historically been more focused on national debt than issues like immigration reform.

Further, on Tuesday, a group of  major GOP donors wrote a letter to House Republicans urging them to support an overhaul to the immigration system. The letter explicitly supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are living in this country already.

The letter signals a shift in the mainstream Republican stance on immigration reform – and it encourages lawmakers to get on board. One of the signers, Frank VanderSloot, said “I think most Republicans are on board with a path…They’re O.K. with [undocumented immigrants] having a path to citizenship, but not having an advantage over those who have been waiting in line for a long time legally.”

Slowly but surely, Republican Congressmen are summoning up the courage to defy their party’s traditional anti-immigration stance. Conservatives are beginning to publically recognize that the current immigration system is broken, and that we are in desperate need of reform. CIR can provide a much-needed jump start to our economy, keep families together, and even mend the Republican Party’s reputation among Latino voters.

Whether their stated motivation is economic or ethical, our representatives must work towards CIR this summer – and it’s our job to hold them accountable.

Want to get involved? Contact Rabbi Ali Abrams, JCUA’s Director of Organizing.


Home/Land at the Goodman Theatre

July 18, 2013

July 18, 2013Image

Albany Park Theatre Project’s Play Discusses Immigrant Justice, beginning July 18

For two weeks only, the Goodman Theatre will be hosting the Albany Park Theatre Project’s play, Home/Land.  The production runs from July 18 to July 28.

Home/Land tells the real-life stories of undocumented immigrants and grassroots immigrant rights activists in Chicago, created and performed by an ensemble of 25 Chicago youth, many of whom are themselves undocumented.  This is especially exciting for us at JCUA, who not only encourage teen leadership and empowerment, but have also been focusing on immigrant justice and immigration reform for years.

Tickets for Home/Land, which received great reviews from critics, including those at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader, are on sale now. Tickets range from $5 to $20 when using the APTP promotional code. In addition, all performances are presented with Spanish supertitles.

A 2-minute teaser of the immigrant justice play can be found here.

Tickets can be purchased online, at GoodmanTheatre.org, or by phone, at 312.443.3800.

Click here to learn more about Albany Park Theatre Project.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,435 other followers

%d bloggers like this: