This week brought us more devastating policy news from the Federal Government. This week the targets were not refugees but undocumented immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security unveiled sweeping new guidelines that will almost certainly increase detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. While these guidelines for deportation priorities explicitly excluded immigrants protected under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (known as DACA), for the first time a young man protected by DACA was put into detention. These orders have caused a wave of fear to grip immigrant communities throughout Madison and the United States.
JSS’s immigration legal services team works here in Madison and surrounding areas. We help people apply for DACA protection, permanent residency status, citizenship and asylum. This work is not new to JSS but has heightened importance in this political climate. Each day our team meets and talks with clients who are afraid. Historically, individuals with green cards have felt safe in the U.S. The green card serves as proof that its holder, a lawful permanent resident, has been officially granted immigration benefits, including permission to reside and take employment in the United States. Now record numbers of green card holders are applying for citizenship so they can feel safe in the U.S. and feel safe leaving the country to visit family. The JSS team works with them.
The JSS team is also working with young people wanting DACA protection. For example, a family came to JSS this week who have been here eighteen years and have three children, two of whom were born here and are citizens.They brought their eldest child to the U.S. as a toddler. Now a young adult, JSS was able to help him to receive DACA protection. He can work legally and obtained a driver’s license. But applying for DACA carries significant risk to the family as the U.S. government now has all the family’s information. The parents fear deportation and are scared for their American born young children who have never been to Mexico and do not read or write in Spanish. The team discussed a safety plan and guardianship options for the children.
These immigrant members of our community need us to raise our voices to combat the policies that cause fear and hate. You can read a call to action from a Madison Latino leader
And you can go to the website of Voces de la Frontera to get information about how you can take action.
Jewish Social Services Says Thank You to the Madison Muslim Community
On Monday, February 20, the following letter was sent to the media:
We, the Madison Muslim Community and the Madinah Community Center, stand with Jewish Community and condemn in the strongest possible terms the bomb threats made against several Jewish Community Centers across United States, including one in Wisconsin.
We call upon the law enforcement officers for a prompt apprehension of the perpetrator(s) and bring them to justice.
Our community will continue to stand with all other minorities who are subject to hate. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups in the United States rose for the second straight year in 2016.
We all need to work together to replace acts of hatred with acts of kindness.
Masood Akhtar, Advisor to the Madison Muslim Community and the Madinah Community Center
Refugee Resettlement Update:
This week at JSS the refugee resettlement team and volunteers continue to support the refugee families. Cultural orientation began this week to help these new arrivals learn more about their new country. All the adults are in English classes. Two of them are looking for employment and 4 others are adjusting to their jobs. We are also gearing up to welcome a new family from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of February.
We are in need of three adult rain coats (one Men’s medium, one Men’s small and one Women’s medium). Please let Rihab know if you have one to donate.
As our new resettlement program takes root and begins to run more smoothly, we are saddened by the fact that President Trump’s executive ban has radically reduced the number of refugees who will be allowed in the country this year. JSS will most likely not get the 50 refugees we planned to resettle this year because of this reduction. HIAS has filed a legal challenge to the reduction in the number of refugees. To read about their work go to HIAS Files Preliminary Injunction Challenging Reduction of Refugee Admissions to 50,000.
We urge you to take action. If you have not done so, please Sign THIS PETITION. And to find out more about the actions you can take please go to www.refugeesarewelcome.org/get-involved/.
Engaging in advocacy or even following the national news can be exhausting and disheartening these days. Each of us needs to find ways to care for ourselves as we do this work. Shabbat is a sacred time in which we get a taste of a more perfect world, of a messianic time. Shabbat is not the time to create that world but to experience the beauty and holiness of our existence. We can then emerge from Shabbat ready to do the work to roll up our sleeves and do our part to make that messianic vision a reality.
May your Shabbat be a time of peace and rejuvenation.
Rabbi Renee Bauer and Dawn Berney