(JTA) — More than 1,400 Jewish clergy from across the United States have signed a letter that calls on government officials to protect the legal right to seek asylum in the United States.
HIAS, an immigrant advocacy and aid group formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, organized the petition. It calls on 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.”
A delegation of rabbis, attorneys and advocates for asylum seekers delivered the petition last week to congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.
“Our tradition teaches that each and every person deserves to be treated justly and with compassion,” it says. “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.”
It also says: “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.”
Rabbi Batsheva Appel of Tucson’s Temple Emanu-El is one of the signers.