Central Conference of American Rabbis Concerned by New Deportation Strategy

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Central Conference of American Rabbis is deeply concerned by "guidance documents" released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), paving the way for dramatically increased and expedited deportation of immigrants in the United States.

Reform rabbis have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform. Ours is a nation of laws -- all of which, including immigration laws, must be taken seriously. Border security and immigration enforcement must go hand-in-hand with a compassionate and rational approach to the millions of men, women, and children living in this country, some of them for many years or even decades, without proper documentation.

These new regulations are likely to spread panic in the immigrant community, break up families, and discourage undocumented immigrants from complying with pre-existing legal procedures such as keeping court dates and appointments with immigration officials. We are concerned about due process under the law as deportations are expedited. Reports of immigration officials focusing on "target-rich environments," which is to say places frequented by immigrants, are likely to increase.

Further, the DHS must take active steps to prohibit enforcement agents from discriminating on the basis of ethnicity. Tens of millions of American citizens and legal residents, particularly Latinos, may be vulnerable. We remain concerned that Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, or others will be compelled to carry proof of their citizenship or legal immigration status with them at all times, in order to escape wrongful detention.

Since DHS's new guidance threatens the families of DACA participants, known as "Dreamers," we call upon the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security to take steps to state clearly that the Trump Administration supports DACA, and to propose legislation that would provide Dreamers a streamlined path to citizenship. We further call upon the Administration not to break up Dreamers' families by deporting Dreamers' parents or siblings, unless they are hardened criminals who would have been subject to deportation before today's guidance.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger                         Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                                          Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis