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Pelavin: As a nation of immigrants, we must remember that it was not too long ago that our own ancestors came to America as strangers in search of freedom and opportunity.
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Washington, DC | April 30, 2008 – As the House of Representatives considers the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Ac (H.R. 4088), Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent the following letter to Representatives highlighting the Reform Movement’s opposition to the legislation. The full text of the letter follows:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis, I urge you to oppose the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act, H.R. 4088).
The SAVE Act would continue the failed status quo immigration policy by throwing millions of dollars at the border without addressing the fundamental issue of the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Spending more money on border security without addressing the underlying reasons for undocumented immigration has clearly not worked.
The SAVE Act would also require all employers to use the flawed Basic Pilot/E-verify program to verify the legal status of its workers. The program relies heavily on the Social Security Administration (SSA) database which—by the SSA’s own estimates—includes 17.8 million records containing errors of name, date of birth, or citizenship status. If the SAVE Act is enacted, millions of legal workers, including U.S. citizens, could lose their jobs by mistake. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants will go further underground, leading to greater exploitation of undocumented workers, lower tax revenues, and the further erosion of wages and working conditions for all. Both our Jewish tradition and our historical experiences lead us to support compassionate immigration policy. The Torah commands, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34). As a nation of immigrants, we must remember that it was not too long ago that our own ancestors came to America as strangers in search of freedom and opportunity.
I strongly urge you not to sign on to the bill’s discharge petition, which would short-circuit the committee process and bring a fatally flawed bill to the floor.