Menu JTA Search

Obama errs on immigration parallel

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

To the Editor:

President Obama citing Jewish immigration to the United States in the current immigration debate is similar to calling a drug dealer an "unlicensed pharmacist," which would be disingenuous and an affront to all the members of the pharmaceutical profession. Sadly, when it comes to the Jews, quite a few of us seem to ignore the obvious.

There is a key difference between the Jewish immigration into the U.S. and the illegal immigration at the center of the current immigration debate: The Jews have come here legally, whereas those crossing the borders are coming illegally. In effect, their first act starting their lives in the United States is breaking U.S. law.

As a Jew, I believe that immigration policies must allow flexibility for victims of religious persecution to find refuge in our country, so that the MS St. Louis does not ever have to be turned away, taking the victims of religious persecution back to their tormentors. But I also believe that what makes our country great is the respect of the law shared overwhelmingly by its citizens. Without this respect, life in the United States would be, and in some places already is, no better than in Mexico City or Mogadishu — many of the same places from where those trying to cross our border claim to be escaping.

I am proud to be a legal immigrant to the U.S., much like the first-generation Americans were proud to be in this country, and to embrace its laws, values and traditions. But I also feel that there is no comparison among the Jewish immigrants, who legally entered this country to start their new lives and mostly are escaping religious persecution, and some just to better their lives, to most of the people illegally crossing our borders in search of the elusive economic paradise.

The immigration policy on the books now is fair and humane, as long as it being properly carried out, but the current lack of enforcement of immigration laws makes a mockery of people like me, who came into the country legally and had to wait for more than 10 years to become a U.S. citizen while following the proper procedures. It is painful to see that the administration would apply its energies to try and deport Mosab Hasan Yousef, a hero who risked his life to fight terrorists, and challenge Arizona’s immigration law, which mirrors the federal law, rather than enforce the said law as it is obligated under the Constitution.

For President Obama to compare Jewish immigration with the current issue of illegal immigration is hypocritical in the least — and more likely defamatory. For Jewish community leaders not to call him on it is plain stupid.

Alex Khazanovich
Phoenix, Ariz.

NEXT STORY