Immigration Campaign

National rally for immigration reform in Washington DC, 2013
National rally for immigration reform in Washington DC, 2013

Dozens of Jewish Social Justice Roundtable organizations worked together on our 2013 immigration campaign. The Roundtable offered opportunities for collaborations at the local and national level, including training and coaching through JOIN for Justice, subsidies, media support, strategic advice and connections.   We worked closely with the We Were Strangers, Too Coalition, led by HIAS. 

One highlight of the campaign was when Upworthy showcased our Hineni video, which boosted the number of views from 15,000 to 45,000 in just a few days. It singlehandedly broadened the reach of our Jewish social justice message, under the headline: “Obama Takes A Second To Talk About Jews In America. It's MEGA Inspiring.” Other accomplishments included:

  • 37 events about immigration were held in Jewish communities across the country, educating our community about the issue and encouraging action. The events ranged from an immigration workshop led by JCUA for AVODAH Corps members in Chicago, to a panel in Ohio with 100 NCJW leaders sharing immigration stories from the Jewish community, to the Nashville JCRC recruiting nearly 100 sympathetic people to attend a state hearing with anti-immigrant undertones.

  • The Roundtable, HIAS and the We Were Strangers Too coalition collaborated to recruit about 50 participants to a menorah-lighting at the Fast for Families Tent on the National Mall in December 2013. Rabbi Steve Gutow and Nancy Kaufman met with the fasters (and members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were visiting the tent at the same time!), led the menorah lighting and spoke movingly about Jewish support for immigration reform.

  • Lay leaders of Jewish organizations participated in 142 meetings with members of Congress or their staff, either in DC or in the home districts. In addition, staff of Jewish organizations have participated in countless congressional meetings on the issue. Because all of the Jewish organizations work in coalition with immigration groups, many of these 142 congressional meetings included representation from the Jewish, interfaith and/or progressive communities. 

  • As the national immigration campaign progressed, frustration with Congress increased. Beginning in August 2013, the movement as a whole embraced civil disobedience as a tactic to raise the pressure on Congress. The Jewish community participated, alongside its immigrant rights partners. Seven Jewish leaders – 4 JCUA leaders in Chicago, 2 senior staff at Bend the Arc and 1 senior staff at NCJW – were arrested alongside their immigrant brothers and sisters during mass demonstrations. Not only did these events garner press coverage in Jewish and secular media, but they also deeply moved the leaders and their networks. Afterwards, each of them spoke out about the inspiration of fellow arrestees who were immigrants, some of whom were undocumented. 

  • The Roundtable initiated a strategic focus on Congressman Eric Cantor and in partnership with several organizations, did a variety of actions that led to an unpercedented personal meeting with himon immigration. These actions included a Jewish call-in day to his office, a report on his family immigrant history, and an immigration event in Richmond.

For more information about this campaign, please read the blog posts below.

Immigration Campaign

North Carolina rabbis unite for immigrant rights this Passover

March 22, 2013 | by Abby Levine, Director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable
The fight in North Carolina over the discrimination of undocumented youth isn’t over, but we have achieved a significant victory. I’m thrilled to share that late yesterday, North Carolina’s Department of Transportation announced that they will not be using pink drivers licenses for young immigrants! However, they will still put the words “No Legal Status” on those licenses starting Monday.
Proposed North Carolina license

Jewish letter to Governor McCroy: Disappointed in North Carolina

March 18, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
March 18, 2013To sign this letter, please email Abby Levine ([email protected]), Director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, by 5 PM EST on Wednesday, March 20. Dear Governor McCrory,We write to you as Jewish leaders dismayed and disappointed that undocumented immigrants in North Carolina who qualify for the federal Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be singled out by having to carry driver’s licenses marked with a pink design and distinc

Passover Prelude: Meeting with Pres. Obama on Immigration

March 17, 2013 | by Mark Hetfield, President & CEO of HIAS
Ten days ago, I was privileged to participate in a meeting on behalf of HIAS at the White House with fourteen faith leaders and leaders of faith-based organizations.

Napolitano at JCPA forum lists ways to fix U.S. immigration system

March 12, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told JCPA conference that the country’s immigration system is broken…Reform is necessary “because the system does not work the way it was intended to,” Napolitano said. “We need an overall system-wide package” that keeps borders secure, raises the number of visas offered and institutes a verification employment system that identifies who is working here while discouraging employers who offer low wages and no benefits.

HIAS met with Pres. Obama Friday on CIR, joining 13 other faith orgs

March 11, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
March 11, 2013Mark Hetfield, President & CEO of HIAS, was one of 14 leaders of faith-based organizations invited to meet with President Obama to discuss his commitment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) on Friday.In the meeting, Mark Hetfeld, told the assembled: “Immigration was the number one issue of the American Jewish community until the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and it remains a critically important issue for us—it goes to the core of who we are as a people.” He added that in the Jewish community, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable—comprising repres

Reconstructionist Movement Takes on Immigration

March 7, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
In a recently released statement, the Reconstructionist Movement has pledged to  take on immigration in the US. The Roundtable is proud to support another national Jewish organization working for a fair system for immigrants and their families. The RRC has already begun partnering with HIAS in Philadelphia to  bring Jews together and out front on immigration reform. Check back here for developments in their work. This is an excerpt from their statement. 

Rabbis Organizing Rabbis for Humane Immigration Reform

March 4, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
Mazel Tov to CCAR- the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. Through Rabbis Organizing Rabbis, CCAR will prioritize humane immigration reform this year. The Roundtable is excited to lend support to the Reform movement in their important work and to continue to build a public Jewish voice supporting the rights of immigrants and their families. 

Napolitano to speak at large Jewish gathering on immigration

March 1, 2013 | by JCPA
It has just been announced that Secretary Napolitano will speak to the JCPA Plenum  about immigration reform. The Plenum, taking place March 9-12 in Washington DC, is the highest decision making body of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

None of God's Children Deserve Hate, including aspiring American

February 19, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
PICO, a national network of faith-based community organizations  has put out a call to people of faith based on a recent disturbing incident. Here’s what happened:

Immigration returns to communal agenda

February 14, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is mentioned in an article in the New Jersey Jewish News yesterday highlighting the work of Jewish organizations bringing immigration reform back into the Jewish communal spotlight. After years of the issue taking a back seat to the economy and health care,  immigration is back on the front burner.