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It's Time to Bring Young Immigrants into the Light

It's Time to Bring Young Immigrants into the Light

Statue of Liberty against a blue sky

The 60th Chapter of Isaiah begins with the fiery words: Stand up! From there, the prophet’s vision unfurls:

Stand up and shine!  For your light has come!

Lift up your eyes and look about: see how all the people have gathered together!

As you behold them, you will become radiant.

The prophet Isaiah understands that the ability of a nation to shine is in its capacity to gather people together and expand its citizenry.

The Trump administration has taken a far narrower view than the Prophet Isaiah. Instead of opening its eyes and bringing the light of hope and protection to over 800,000 human beings, the Administration instead has turned its gaze from nearly one million young immigrants who chose to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and cast a horrific shroud of darkness over them, their families, and our communities.

As Jews – children of immigrants in America, the descendants of those outcast from innumerable lands – we stand with these American dreamers, the undocumented who came to this country during the innocence of their childhood.  Informed by our heritage and history, our work with Reform Illinois – a group of Reform Jewish clergy and lay leaders – focuses on how the Jewish community can bring more justice to immigrants and other vulnerable groups in our great state.  We have spent the summer learning from our many allies in this work just how critical it is for all citizens – regardless of race or class or creed – to stand together, stand up, and take action to protect those who have come to America not just to build better lives, but to build a better shared future for us all.

These young people, who have made such remarkable contributions to our country, are tired of living in the shadows. We believe that their time has come to shine without fear of deportation or family separation. The commitment these young people have made to the ideals of this country – through their pursuit of education and public service – is a shining example of what it means to be American. And so now is the time to stand with them and take active steps to ensure that our public policies reflect their needs.  

We must gather together. We cannot turn aside our attention. We need to stand up and shine our collective light.

Politically, we have a six-month timeline that started in mid-September. Since the executive branch has passed the buck of responsibility to Congress, we have an opportunity to work together to ensure that the past protections of DACA become the permanent law of our land. Senator Dick Durbin has already co-sponsored the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 [S. 1615], which also enjoys the support of Senator Tammy Duckworth. On the House side, members of our Illinois delegation have co-sponsored the parallel H.R. 3440, which is a vital step forward.

But bills do not pass themselves, especially in the current bitterly divided political environment. Progress demands that all citizens become engaged. We must call our congress people, either to thank them for their leadership in advancing this legislation, or to lobby them to change their positions and become advocates for DACA participants and other immigrants. Calls, emails, tweets and protests do make a difference. When so people join together in common cause, our elected representatives are forced to respond.

Thus, while we are grateful that our Governor signed the TRUST act, and proud that Chicago is a Sanctuary City, we cannot forget the role that common citizens have played by standing together to shape public policy. \ Progress does not occur in a vacuum, and it won’t happen in darkness. Our time has come to shine light: we must stand up for DREAMers and protect DACA participants – our neighbors and friends, people striving to improve their own lives and the life of our nation – from deportation.

Protect DREAMers from deportation: Fill out this action alert to ask Congress to act now act to ensure there is no gap between the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and a permanent, legislative fix. 

Rabbi Shoshanah Conover of Temple Sholom and Rabbi Seth Limmer of Chicago Sinai Congregation are members of the core team of Reform Illinois, a project of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, working to build a more compassionate and just Illinois.

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