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

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.

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