- There is a humanitarian crisis in our country. We have a large population of undocumented, vulnerable people who have few protections and little recourse.
- Asylum seekers who have committed no crime are being held in privately run prisons. While the dehumanizing conditions of these immigration detention centers are well documented, there is very little government or civilian oversight.
- There is a dearth of legal representation for asylum seekers and 80% of detainees will ultimately be deported after being imprisoned. In some states, including Georgia and Arizona, 90% of asylum seekers face deportation.
- Most asylum seekers embark on the perilous journey to the US border because they are fleeing violence of massive proportions. They are choosing life over death.
- Detainees waiting for asylum hearings face bonds at prohibitive costs between $5,000-$20,000. Most cannot make bail and remain in detention.
- Detainees released on bail are not allowed to work and at the same time they are barred from seeking any social services, such as food stamps. Failure to comply with these rules can result in fast-track deportation. This causes ripe scenarios for people to be taken advantage of in all imaginable ways.
- The US Immigration situation is a product of years of bipartisan policy failures. There is no simple solution to the current humanitarian crisis at our border. What we need are creative solutions and bipartisan policy leadership. From a Jewish perspective, we cannot ignore the toll of human suffering and we cannot allow for dehumanization of immigrants.
Ways Our Community Can Help
Rabbi Spike Anderson is planning organized service trips to the border and detention centers. Please be in touch if you are interested in participating: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many organizations that provide humanitarian aid, legal services, and shelter to people caught up in our country’s immigration system. This is a national issue and many local communities are galvanizing to meet the needs of asylum seekers. The list below is only a sample of possible ways that our synagogue community might get involved.
1) Arizona Jews for Justice is a grassroots organization that focuses on offering aid to asylum seekers. Volunteers meet detainees dropped off at the central bus station in Phoenix immediately after their release on bond. You can support their efforts by purchasing emergency relief products on the group’s Target registry list.
2) Lawyers for Good Government is a non-profit organization founded by a Temple Emanu-El community member, Traci Love. She has mobilized thousands of attorneys nationwide to get involved in immigration issues. Here you will find information about their work at the border, their travel fund (which sends hundreds of volunteer lawyers to the border and detention centers each year), and law firm partners (approx 50 major law firms working on bond cases for immigrants in detention).
3) El Refugio provides support to detainees at the Stewart Detention center, one of the largest immigration prisons in the country located in Lumpkin, GA. One of their services is safe lodging facilities for visiting families and loved ones, as there are no hotels in Lumpkin.
4) The Florence Project in Arizona offers multiple services, including pro-bono legal representation and abandoned children's services.
5) The Southern Poverty Law Center sponsors a special project called Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative. This particular project provides legal representation to immigrants in the Southeast region.
We are continuing our efforts to partner with organizations, around the country and in our local communities, whose mission supports immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.