HIAS Joins 200,000 Advocates in Washington, DC to Rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: HIAS Participates in Events to Unify the Jewish Community on Immigration Reform

Posted on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 17:55 pm

(New York, NY) – With Passover, the Jewish holiday of freedom starting next week, HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, joined an estimated 200,000 advocates on Sunday, March 21, 2010 in Washington, DC to ask Congress and the Administration to move forward on passing comprehensive immigration reform. For the last several months HIAS has worked as part of We Were Strangers, Too: the Jewish campaign for immigration reform, to ensure a strong Jewish presence at the rally, along with organizing and participating in events on Sunday meant to unify the Jewish community.

HIAS, along with partners in the campaign, organized a bagel brunch for Jewish community members at Hillel headquarters in Washington, DC. The brunch provided a meeting place before the rally for Jewish community members to meet each other, make posters, and participate in a Living Talmud on immigration reform. Participants also heard from HIAS President & CEO Gideon Aronoff, who spoke about the Jewish campaign for immigration reform and shared insight about the day ahead and the Jewish community’s role in the immigration movement.

Following the bagel brunch, the Jewish community marched together from the Hillel headquarters to the National Mall for an interfaith service, which included a prayer on behalf of the Jewish community. The service was prelude to a three-hour rally for comprehensive immigration reform, beginning with an invocation from five faith leaders. Rabbi Morris Allen from Minnesota addressed the enormous crowd on the National Mall, saying “We are gathered to remind the world that the story of Passover is not over. Its enduring message demands that we never forget that ‘you shall not oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt.’”

Jewish leadership participated in a national conference call after the rally to inform Jews across the country about the day’s events in DC and how individuals can engage in immigration advocacy work at home. Members of the Jewish community taking part in the call heard from Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); and Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza.

“We need immigration reform that keeps families together,” said Gideon Aronoff on the conference call, “[that] creates legal paths for future migrants, brings the undocumented population out of the shadows, empowers immigrants to integrate, and establishes effective enforcement that bolsters national security while balancing human and civil rights.”

Inspired by Sunday’s rally, on Monday March 21, 2010, the Jewish community visited their representatives on the Hill and picked up the phone to tell Congress that immigration reform cannot wait any longer.