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Immigration and Leadership

Where we as teens should stand on recent hot-button immigration issues.

By Lindsay Schawelson and Max Palay, NFTY Southwest

Immigration reform has become an especially important topic this past year. The issue was a deciding factor in the election and gained President Trump many of his votes. In the state of Arizona, immigration reform is always up for debate because we live close to the Mexican border. With the current administration calling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into question, it is time to investigate further into what DACA really is and how we as Reform Jewish teens can act upon this issue.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an Obama-era program created to allow undocumented immigrants with certain credentials to apply to defer deportation so that they can live in America for two years and apply for a renewal afterwards. The credentials of these undocumented immigrants include: coming to America before age 16, living in the country since June 15, 2007, and being under thirty years of age when the Department of Homeland Security enacted DACA in 2012. So far 787,580 people have become “Dreamers,” and therefore have the ability to acquire jobs legally, receive valid driver’s licenses, attend college, serve in the military, and pay income taxes.

Originally introduced by President Barack Obama through an executive order, President Donald Trump has terminated the program, effective March 6, 2018.. Amidst this rapid change, we must look inward, and see what we as a Reform Jewish community can do to stimulate positive action.

The NFTY Study Theme, “The Reform Jewish Voice in Action” demands change and the powerful voices of our movement in such turbulent times. One of the main principles of Judaism is welcoming the stranger. As it is stated in Exodus 23:9, “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” Dreamers are not strangers. Many of them know no other home than the United States, and to demand that they pick up their whole life and leave our country is doing the exact opposite of what we know to be Jewish value. Living in a red state, many people see little point in speaking out, which makes it that much more essential that we, the Reform Jewish movement, make ourselves heard. How will we act?

Take action with these resources: