Remembering Senator Kennedy

Posted by Gideon Aronoff on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 15:53 pm

Along with Americans across the country, we at HIAS today are mourning the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Many people aren’t aware of his ongoing commitment to immigrant causes over the years, yet no member of Congress has fought harder than Senator Kennedy for comprehensive immigration reform. Ever since entering the Senate, he worked to protect refugees fleeing persecution and to welcome newcomers from around the world to join in America’s future. In fact, it was his leadership on the 1965 immigration legislation that ended our nationality-based quota system – a relic from the immigration quota acts of 1921 and 1924 that prevented so many European Jews from escaping Nazism.

HIAS and the American Jewish community also joined forces with Senator Kennedy in his efforts to enact the Refugee Act of 1980, which provided the opportunity for nearly 400,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union to be resettled in local communities throughout the United States. His leadership was essential in ensuring that persecuted Jews and other refugees would not be abandoned, but would be rescued, resettled, and offered new lives in America.

In recent years, Senator Kennedy again called for an end to our broken immigration system and denounced the scapegoating of immigrants – both legal and undocumented – for our nation’s problems.

He will be deeply missed, but his passion for America and for immigrants serves as a rallying cry that we must see this struggle through to a successful conclusion.

May Senator Kennedy’s memory be a blessing to his family and friends, and to all in America and the world.


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