Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The following statement is signed by officers and national board members of the National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL). This is not an official policy adopted by the organization.

"We strongly affirm the principle of religious freedom guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Throughout history, the Jewish people have been persecuted as strangers in a strange land. Our Jewish tradition is rooted in the belief that we should welcome all people seeking shelter and safety.

Therefore, we find the Presidential Executive Orders issued last Friday authorizing a wall on the Mexican-American border and blocking certain refugees and other people from entering the United States based on their nationality or religion outrageous and un-American. In practice, the Orders “blacklist” Muslims, create a state-sponsored religious hierarchy, promoting confrontation and hate, not cooperation and diplomacy.

It was particularly unfortunate that the Executive Orders were issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day and that the White House failed to mention that the Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews.

As Jews, we have seen the devastating impacts of the United States refusing refugees fleeing for their lives, from the turning away of the MS Saint Louis in 1939 to “quotas" against European immigrants seeking refuge here. Understanding this history is critical to our nation's ability to learn from our past.

We reject policies violating core American values that result in discriminatory action against people based on their faith, race, or national origin. An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths.

The Executive Orders issued last week must be rescinded.

Instead, we urge the President to work together with Congress to develop better immigration policies that maintain our democratic values of freedom and tolerance."

Representative Patrice Arent, Utah

Representative Lori Ehrlich, Massachusetts

Assemblyman David Weprin, New York

Representative Matthew Lesser, Connecticut

Delegate Eileen Filler Corn, Virginia

Representative Michael Schlossberg, Pennsylvania

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, Nevada

Representative David Leland, Ohio

Representative Dan Frankel, Pennsylvania

Representative Sara Feigenholtz, Illinois

Delegate Shelly Hettleman, Maryland

Representative Beth Bernstein, South Carolina

Representative Richard Stark, Florida

Assemblyman Marc Levine, California

Senator Sandy Pappas, Minnesota

Representative Tana Senn, Washington