Jewish groups call on Obama to ‘welcome the stranger’

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Twenty Jewish organizations urged President Obama and Congress to deal humanely with the unaccompanied children and refugees from Central America who are crossing the U.S. border.

The statement released Tuesday, which was written by the refugee resettlement agency HIAS, calls on the government to “welcome the stranger” in dealing with those entering the United States through Mexico from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“The safety and well-being of these migrants – and particularly the unaccompanied children – must be at the heart of every policy decision made in response to this humanitarian crisis,” according to the statement, which was signed by such groups as the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International and the Jewish Federations of North America.

In the statement, the Jewish organizations call for a long term, holistic solution “that prioritizes safety and opportunity.” They call for increased border enforcement in connection with measures to ensure that those in danger of persecution in their homeland can seek asylum in the United States. The Jewish groups also are calling for increased funding for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Policy.

More than 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed into the United States along its southern border in the past nine months and another 80,000 to 90,000 are expected by the end of the current fiscal year, according to HIAS.

Also signing the statement were Ameinu, Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish Women International, Keshet, National Council of Jewish Women, the Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, The Solomon Project, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Union for Reform Judaism, Uri L’Tzedek and The Workmen’s Circle.

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