Facing our Immigration Crisis

Sent to the congregation on July 17, 2019


Dear Friends,

Two years ago, Mount Zion passed a resolution to become a Union of Reform Judaism Immigrant Justice Congregation. This was after almost a year of congregational discussion. Since that time, our Tzedek committee has invited all members to engage in a number of actions in support of immigrant justice. This work is increasingly urgent. If you want ideas of something to do, please see below.

At Mount Zion, we could and should have dialogue and debate specific policies regarding how to attain immigrant justice. Our United States Senate did so in 2013 and passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation to address the many issues from security to clear pathways for people living in our country without documentation. Unfortunately that legislation did not become law and we are living with the consequences of policies that change with the whims and political needs of each administration.

Even with our different views, how can we not be deeply disturbed by reports of migrant children and families detained in deplorable conditions at our Southern border? Our millennia-old values demand moral outrage. We do not need to make historic analogies to know that what is happening is a crisis. Migrant children continue to be separated from parents and the facilities where these children are held are neither safe nor sanitary, in some cases lacking even access to soap and water, toothbrushes, clean diapers, adequate food or even cots for sleeping.

The Mount Zion Tzedek committee suggests several ways to take action regarding these detention facilities which we include below.

With prayers for all who are suffering and for comprehensive immigration reform,

L’shalom,
Michael Kuhne, President
Adam Stock Spilker, Rabbi


Immigration Justice Opportunities to Make a Difference
From the Mount Zion Tzedek Committee:

First, we must speak with our elected officials whose job is to manage immigration and whose votes will have the most significant impact on millions of lives:

Call your representatives and tell them that the incarceration of migrant children needs to end now. This is not a partisan issue. Children seeking asylum need nourishing food and safe shelter – not cruel and unsanitary punishment in squalid camps and frigid cells. Urge Congress to ensure that money already allocated to the border be spent on care and support for asylum seeker, not just enforcement.

Donate:

Donations can be made to the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. This is a facility run by Catholic Charities that provides relief and shelter for migrants and asylum seekers.

Donations can also be made to our Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center’s Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative. This initiative is devoted to deep, strategic advocacy and organizing on behalf of immigrant justice. Learn more about the Kraus Initiative.

Connect:

Consider joining the Tzedek Committee at Mount Zion (email Vic Rosenthal, Chair, or Diana Dean, Vice-Chair) and visit the Tzedek webpage on mzion.org to learn about the work that Mount Zion members are already engaged in: Six ways to help with immigration justice

Stay informed:

Last Friday, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ, wrote a piece entitled How and Why We Must Advocate for a Just Immigration System.

Look at many news sources. (Some of these may have a pay wall). For instance, the Wall Street Journal has covered the issues extensively.

The New York Times has published a series of articles describing the detention of migrants and asylum seekers.

Read the testimonials of congregants who have observed immigration court proceedings.

Join a Prayer Vigil at the Whipple Federal Building:

The Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (started by Mount Zion members) hosts a prayer vigil by the Whipple Federal Building at Fort Snelling – the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 a.m. This is a site of deportation hearings for migrants.