Why Jews Should Oppose Trump’s Immigration Policies
In 1939, the United States turned back a ship carrying more than 900 mostly German-Jewish passengers — 254 of whom were later killed in the Holocaust.
We Jews need to look in the mirror right now, and ask ourselves that if every time we say, “Never Again,” we truly mean it. What would we do if, instead of Muslims, our government banned Jews who were fleeing murderous regimes from entering our country? Would we stay silent?
I understand and sympathize with the fear that someone with extremist views may enter the country and commit an act of terror — as has happened in a handful of cases in Europe. However, I think it is important to take a step back and look at the actual numbers related to refugees and terrorism in the United States.
Since 2001, the US has resettled almost 800,000 refugees, yet only three — or 0.000375% — have been arrested for planning terrorist activities.
Yes, one attack is one too many; but illogical policies like this one will only help ISIS recruit, and will lead to more attacks. Furthermore, this ban would not have prevented the massacres in San Bernardino or Orlando, because both of the individuals who were primarily responsible for the shootings were born in the United States.
Part of “never forgetting” the Holocaust is helping other people who are fleeing mass persecution and war zones, regardless of their race and religion. Our response as a Jewish community should be comprehensive and firm. While we cannot always prevent violence, we can at least help ensure that those trying to escape it have a place to rebuild their lives, just like many of our family members did.
Yes, there are substantial differences in culture, and those entering the United States should be expected to adhere to our laws and values, but let us not kid ourselves: Even within our own community, there are some groups like the ultra-Orthodox in Brooklyn, who also cling to values and lifestyles that many do not agree with.
A separate, but very much related topic is that of Mexico, and the Trump administration’s policies on immigration and the wall. While I personally don’t agree with his proposed policies on trade, his view is an issue that reasonable people can debate and differ on.
What is unacceptable, though, is his xenophobic and factually flawed attacks on Mexico and its people. I know, because I am one of them.
Yes, the United States is a country of laws, and people who enter without the proper documentation are breaking those laws. However, we must understand two things. The first is that these immigrants don’t usually come because they want to; they come because they have to, in order to escape violence and/or feed their families who are living in dire conditions back home.
Secondly, regarding the image that Trump has propagated of undocumented immigrants as violent criminals or job-takers who bring down wages, there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, undocumented immigrants are less likely to be arrested for violent crimes than their citizen peers. Regarding the wages argument, several studies have been done that show a minimal decrease in wages, while showing a substantial amount of job creation due to higher demand. And, unlike what Trump may think, these immigrants are assimilating. In fact, 89 percent of children born in this country to Latin American immigrant parents speak proficient English.
Finally, regarding the notion that immigrants from Mexico are flooding into this country, the number of undocumented ones has actually fallen each year since 2008 — meaning that more are going back to their countries of origin than coming in.
If this has not persuaded you to rethink your views on Latin American immigrants, consider that, by 2025, Hispanics will make up 20% of the US population. Do we, as a Jewish community, want to be on the wrong side of history and jeopardize the support from these communities for causes that are important to us — like the security and safety of Israel?
Instead of staying silent or supporting Trump’s xenophobic policies, we should oppose them so that we not only do the right thing according to our religious teachings, but also so that we ensure future relationships for generations to come.