National Jewish Clergy Letter in Support of Welcoming Asylum Seekers

Sign and share the letter below to join thousands of Jewish clergy in expressing our moral outrage at our nation’s treatment of asylum seekers. In 1939, the St. Louis was turned away from the shores of the United States with more than 900 Jewish refugees aboard. As we mark the 80th anniversary of that avoidable tragedy, we must speak out so that our nation does not repeat the mistakes of its past.

We - Jewish clergy from across the country - call on our elected officials to protect the fundamental right to seek asylum in the United States.

The right to flee one’s country and seek safety in another is protected under both U.S. and international law. For those requesting asylum in the U.S., to be denied a fair process could mean a return to situations most of us cannot imagine in some of the most violent countries in the world.

Our tradition teaches that each and every person deserves to be treated justly and with compassion. However, under current U.S. policy and practice, asylum seekers instead face an ever-lengthening list of injustices including family separation, long periods of detention in jail-like facilities, and denial of due process in their legal proceedings. Simply put, our country is treating these individuals as criminals, even though seeking asylum is a legal right. This must change.

The Jewish people know what it means to be turned away and to be denied protection. As Jews we understand the heart of the refugee, and the current actions of our government echo some of the darkest moments of our own history.

Our concern does not only apply to the Jewish past, but to our present. We are alarmed by the rising prominence of ideologies that dehumanize and vilify immigrants and refugees alongside Jews, Muslims, and so many others. We are committed to fighting hate and standing for our American and Jewish values of protecting the persecuted and welcoming the stranger, irrespective of nationality, race, or religion.

We call on our elected officials to act immediately to provide a just and humane asylum process for those seeking safety in our country, wherever they come from and however they arrive.

In Jewish tradition, there is no higher obligation than to save the life of another. As Jewish clergy, we will not stay silent as our country turns its back on individuals fleeing danger.