(!/31/17) The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta (JCRCA), the local organization in the Jewish community relations field, opposes President Trump’s executive orders that would restrict entry for refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, halt federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” and expand detention for immigrants and asylum-seekers.
David Bernstein, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), our national umbrella organization, stated “We are deeply concerned about President Trump’s actions on immigration and refugees, and the callous decision to take such action on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. These pronouncements not only severely restrict immigration, they instill fear among existing immigrant populations that they are not welcome and may be at risk. . . . . . The ‘sanctuary cities’ provision, especially, threatens to seriously compromise the police’s ability to keep communities safe by undermining trust and communication between police and immigrant populations.”
The executive order suspending immigration from seven majority Muslim countries is intended to “keep America safe”. However, we believe that a policy which closes doors to millions of legitimate travelers in order to prevent a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans will fall short of making our country safer. This policy runs counter to nondiscrimination, equal treatment and welcoming the stranger; all core Jewish and American values. Further, if implemented will only alienate our relationships in the Muslim world, harm cooperation with allied countries in the fight against radical Islamic terror and only serve to make our country more vulnerable.
The Jewish people know firsthand the consequences of turning away those fleeing persecution. Based on our own immigrant experience and Judaism’s imperative to “welcome the stranger,” the JCRC is advocating on behalf of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers who hope to build a better life for themselves and their children. Resettled refugees have consistently boosted the economy, and enriched our culture and pluralistic ethos. 91% of refugees are self-sufficient within 180 days of arrival to the United States. Not one refugee has committed a fatal act of terrorism post-9/11 in the U.S.
As the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of refugees, we take this executive order very personally. The United States currently has one of the most stringent vetting policies in the world (taking 18-36 months) and should continue this careful review in order to keep our country safe. But we are facing a severe international refugee crisis and cannot let our concerns about radical Islamic terrorists undermine another core national purpose—providing a home for immigrants. The American immigrant experience is one of the country’s greatest sources of strength.