HIAS Commends President on His Common Sense Approach to Immigration and His Strong Exhortation for Congress to Act

Posted on Thu, Jul 01, 2010 at 13:56 pm

(New York, NY) – HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, praises President Obama for his first major immigration address and the strong statements he made today urging comprehensive immigration reform. In a statement made immediately following the speech, Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO of HIAS, said:

“We greatly appreciate the common sense approach taken by President Obama as he encourages Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. We agree with the President that the rule of law must prevail, but that enforcement alone is not the answer to fix our broken immigration system. The need for a comprehensive fix is urgent and should include a wide array of measures, most especially a path to legal rights and citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already here. It is neither feasible nor morally tolerable to rip apart families – many who include both undocumented immigrants and their citizen children – by deporting 11 million people.

“Today we heard a clarion call to action from the President to the American people to urge Congress to respect our nation’s heritage and values.

“Our parents, grandparents, and earlier forebears came to these shores to seek a better life for themselves and future generations. The vast majority of Americans still believe this country should remain true to these roots by providing a hospitable legal framework for the disadvantaged and dispossessed to arrive and integrate into our nation’s mosaic.

“We at HIAS were especially gratified that the President acknowledged the suffering of the Jewish people, who escaped persecution and poverty at the turn of the last century to seek freedom here, and likewise acknowledged the poet Emma Lazarus, whose volunteer work at HIAS in the 1880s informed her poem, “The Great Colossus,” which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

“We believe that today’s immigrants – from Sergey Brin, former HIAS client and co-founder of Google, to the poorest of migrant farm laborers – are no less worthy of this country’s compassion expressed in Lazarus’s poem. We commend the President for echoing that compassion, for his recognition of the contribution of immigrants, and for his strong exhortation to our lawmakers to redouble their efforts to guarantee continued immigration within a just and legal framework.”