November 19, 2015
We, the undersigned Jewish organizations, write to express support for refugee resettlement. We urge you to oppose any legislative proposals that aim to halt U.S. resettlement efforts or restrict funding for any groups of refugees, include Syrian refugees.
In 1939, the United States refused to let the S.S. St. Louis dock in our country, sending over 900 Jewish refugees back to Europe, where many died in concentration camps. That moment was a stain on the history of our country — a tragic decision made in a political climate of deep fear, suspicion, and antisemitism.
Last week’s devastating attacks in Paris and Beirut are examples of the brutal violence that Syrian refugees are fleeing. We are disheartened to see many U.S. politicians citing these tragic events as a reason to put safe haven further out of reach for refugees. At this critical moment, when there are more refugees and displaced persons than at any time since World War II, we must protect refugees and asylum seekers, not scapegoat them.
The U.S. government has extensive security measures in place to distinguish between those fleeing violence and those seeking to commit it. In fact, refugees are the most thoroughly vetted of all types of immigrants entering the country. Security is an important part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, as it must be, but so is compassion.
In 1939, our country turned away victims of persecution and violence. We implore you to not make that same mistake today.
Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies (AJFCA)
Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
Habonim D’ror North America
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
National Council of Jewish Women
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism