April 29, 2010

COMMANDED:

Immigration overhaul is a job for the U.S. Congress (Gideon Aronoff, April 29, 2010, JTA)

For Jews especially, the question “Where are your papers” raises the dual scepters of Nazi Europe and the Soviet Union. Within living memory, some of us were forced to identify ourselves by yellow stars and many of us by having “Yevrey” ("Jew" in Russian) stamped on our identification papers.

The situation in Arizona, though very different from these tragic memories, nevertheless resonates strongly.

Once it takes effect later this year, the Immigration; Law Enforcement; Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070) will require everyone in the state of Arizona to carry government-issued identification at all times or risk arrest. Despite the police training programs Governor Brewer mandated after the law was signed to prevent racial profiling, discrimination seems unavoidable.

For legal residents who will be pulled over based solely on the color of their skin or questioned due to their accents, the reaction no doubt will alternate between shame and rage. This legislation will pit segments of society against each other, resulting in increased hate rhetoric and racial tension.

In Deuteronomy 16:12, we are commanded to establish a fair justice system: “and they shall judge the people with righteous justice.” In Leviticus 24:22, we are further instructed: “You shall have one law for the stranger and the citizens alike.”

We believe these passages have great relevance today and that advocating for the rights of immigrants reflects the Jewish mandate to uphold a fair justice system.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 29, 2010 8:08 PM
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