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

Bend the Arc prioritizes common sense immigration reform

February 13, 2013 | by Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
President Obama addressed many crucial issues during last night’s State of the Union address.

Poll reveals Jewish views on immigrants and immigration

February 5, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
Results of a Public Religion Research Institute poll completed in March 2012 entitled “Jewish Values Survey 2012” has become relevant again as Jewish organizations amp up their engagement in the campaign to create a just immigration process. The survey sheds light on Jewish views of immigration. PRRI found that a solid majority of American Jews (57%) believe that the growing number of newcomers from other countries strengthen American society. However, the details are a bit more complicated.

This week in immigration reform

January 31, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
With both the President and members of Congress apparently raring to go on immigration, the Jewish community, long-time advocates for citizenship and the media took note.  Essential Reading:

Jewish groups weigh in on immigration debate

January 31, 2013 | by Mae Singerman, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Coordinator
Upon the heels of President Obama’s immigration reform speech yesterday, Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum have expressed solid support of immigration reform and quickly.

We Won! The Story of One Jewish Community Organizer

December 5, 2012 | by Sarah Brammer-Shlay, Community Organizer at Jews United for Justice in Washington, DC and AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps Member
Like many children, brave leaders who stood on the right side of history have always been an inspiration to me. My first grade research project was on Harriet Tubman, my mother was an officer in the National Organization for Women during the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment and nothing fascinated me more than the Civil Rights movement.

Words of Torah for Marriage Equality

October 22, 2012 | by Rabbi Harold Kravitz, Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota
This is an excerpt from an article posted on Keshet’s blog on Go there to read the full piece.