10 rabbis are visiting separated families on the border


NEW YORK (JTA) — A group of 10 rabbis has traveled to Texas to examine detention facilities for separated families on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The group, which is aiming to visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Centralized Processing Center on Thursday, includes rabbis from all four major Jewish religious movements and is part of a larger delegation of 40 interdenominational clergy.

The group also includes Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders. Among them was the Rev. Al Sharpton, onetime provocative civil rights activist.

The clergy are at the border to protest the policy of separating families that crossed into the United States illegally. More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since the policy was instituted in early May.

Following widespread outcry, including from a broad range of Jewish groups, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday stating that families who cross the border illegally will be detained together.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of the liberal rabbinic human rights group T’ruah, is on the delegation and said Trump’s executive order Wednesday was “chutzpahdik” — a Yiddish word that means galling.

“We want to see the conditions there, come back, report to our communities and mobilize our religious communities to stop these policies separating children and families,” Jacobs told JTA. “At most, the executive order means that children will be imprisoned with their parents, which is inhumane and a violation of international law.”

Also on the trip was Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner of the Religious Action Center, the Reform movement’s legislative arm, who called family separation a “moral travesty.”

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