HIAS Pennsylvania Recognizes the Value of President Obama’s Actions to Bring Immigrants Out of the Shadows

President Obama’s plan to grant temporary three year work permits and protection against deportation for millions of immigrant parents and young people who have lived and worked with and among us for years recognizes the need to fix our broken immigration system.


HIAS Pennsylvania, both individually and through the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Coalition on Immigration, have pressed for immigration reform. The plan contains elements of Senate Bill S. 744 which was passed by a bi-partisan vote of 68-32 a year and a half ago, but has remained stagnant in Congress. We reaffirm our commitment to work with our congressional officials and the administration to pass comprehensive immigration form.

This executive action will mean that some immigrants can come out of the shadows and have the temporary security of knowing their families will not be torn apart. It is also good for economic development in our state as thousands of Pennsylvania residents will start new, or expand their existing businesses, increasing our tax base,  contributing to our region’s growth. We already have experience with how such programs benefit all residents. Over 2,000 young immigrants in Pennsylvania who benefited from a 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals have gone on to colleges, graduate and professional schools, joined the ranks of our armed forces and taken leadership positions in civic organizations.

Welcoming immigrants is a central tenant of Jewish teaching and tradition.  We are called upon to “love the stranger” in Leviticus 19:34.  According to Adam Kessler, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC), “JCRC, as well as the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, have been working locally and nationally  in coalitions to support immigration reform and this is a welcome development.” Judith Bernstein-Baker, Esq., Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania states that “HIAS Pennsylvania will be working with our faith and other allies, including the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, to make sure the community is informed about the program.” The HIAS Pennsylvania website at www.hiaspa.org will list updates and resources available as the program is implemented. Ilan Rosenberg, President of the HIAS Pennsylvania Board of Directors, who emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, said “we are delighted to see the administration recognizing the contributions of so many valuable members of our communities – parents, children and spouses of American citizens and lawful residents – and look forward to working with them to achieve their American dream.”

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