WASHINGTON (JTA) — An array of Jewish groups urged President Obama and Congress to ease the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Nineteen national groups and dozens of local groups and clergy signed on to a letter sent last Friday that was timed for Passover.
"American Jews know too well the impact of restrictive immigration policies, and we have seen how the immigration issue can become a flashpoint for xenophobia," said the letter, which was spearheaded by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Signatories represented all four major Jewish religious streams as well as the major Jewish civil rights groups, and the federation and public policy umbrellas.
"We are concerned the failure of national leaders to fix the broken immigration system has fueled racist, nativist, and extremist groups who blame immigrants for our country’s problems, and has been a central factor in the spread of state and local policies and laws that legalize discrimination against immigrants,” the letter says.
It calls for legislation that "brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows by providing a pathway to citizenship, creates safe and legal avenues for future flows of immigrants, reunites families, establishes border protection and enforcement policies that enhance our national security, and accords all immigrants the responsibilities and rights required for full integration into American society."
The letter asks that such a system be "realistic" and that citizenship be available "within a reasonable timeframe of years, not decades." It also urges reform that "fixes the broken system for admitting and integrating refugees and asylum seekers."