Statement from JCRC and JVS: A Call for Action Motivated by Freedom and Tolerance

 

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JCRC and JVS join together to urge a long-term solution for the thousands of refugees fleeing persecution in Syria. In the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks, some are calling for an end to asylum for Syrian refugees or advocating the perverse notion of a religious test before allowing entry. The collective demonization and fear of the “other” is a notion all too familiar to the Jewish community and we call for action motivated by freedom and tolerance, rather than hatred and fear.

It bears reiterating that the American promise of safe harbor for political, social or religious refugees is a principle as old as our Republic and should not be a political football used for scoring points or increasing poll numbers. Guided by our own history as refugees as well as our shared biblical and prophetic mandate to protect and welcome the stranger, the American Jewish community has always been a stakeholder in refugee resettlement and protection, often in the face of vocal efforts to close our borders. We stand with those who seek to increase the flow of refugees, subject to reasonable and rigorous security protocols.

JCRC actively advocates for policies that help immigrants and refugees acclimate and thrive in their new surroundings. Working with a broad coalition of partners, the ultimate goals have been modeled after the historical and successful integration of numerous refugee groups who have come to Massachusetts seeking a new start.  From housing and shelter to health care, stabilization services to educational opportunities, and ultimately citizenship programs, JCRC is committed to the proposition that our Commonwealth’s public policies should line up with our aspirations.

JVS has been welcoming and integrating immigrants into our communities and economy for over 75 years, when the first victims of the Holocaust began arriving from Austria and Germany.  The languages spoken and countries of origin may have changed, but the needs remain the same. JVS provides employment-based language skills and job training supports to help recent immigrants and refugees integrate into society and the economy to create a new generation of American dreamers. Immigrants are and always have been a crucial cog in the American economic system and we should be welcoming people risking their lives for freedom and opportunity.

The United States should not turn its back on innocent people escaping oppression and seeking freedom, particularly when many of them are themselves victims of Daesh and the Islamist violent extremism we have seen in recent days. This is the bedrock American ideal of welcome and freedom and part of the legacy of the Jewish people.