2018-06-20 / Editorial

Separating kids from parents at border goes against Jewish values


The practice of separating children from parents caught crossing the border into the United States is immoral and does not reflect who we should be as Jews and Americans. We agree with the diverse group of Jewish organizations speaking out against the “zero tolerance” policy and calling for family reunification.

Responding to the border crisis, 27 organizations, including the three major Jewish religious movements, have signed onto a strongly-worded statement urging the U.S. government to end the policy of separating the children of every adult caught crossing the border illegally.

“As Jews, we understand the plight of being an immigrant fleeing violence and oppression,” said the groups in a statement organized by the Anti-Defamation League. “We believe that the United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat the stranger reflects on the moral values and ideals of this nation.”

The Jewish groups join a growing movement of interfaith leaders outspoken about the practice, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Rev. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son.

The Orthodox Union, which recently signed onto the ADL letter, issued its own statement affirming the position on June 14.

“As an Orthodox Jewish organization whose values are anchored in those of the Torah and Jewish history, we are deeply concerned about any steps taken that affect families and the parent/child relationship. Thus, we believe that immigration, asylum and border security policies must also be fashioned and implemented in a manner that takes all steps possible to keep parents and children united.”

In addition, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, signed on to a statement issued by more than two dozen of the largest religious groups in the U.S.

The letter states: “Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the wellbeing of parents and children.”

From April 19 through May 31 of this year, 1,995 minors traveling with 1,940 adults who said they were the children’s guardians were separated due to the policy, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Because the government is charging the parents in the criminal justice system, children are separated from them, with no clear procedure for their reunification.

Protecting our borders is vitally important. Our government can and must do it in a way that upholds values we so treasure from our religious and democratic traditions. s

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