Jewish and Latino Caucuses Visit ICE Detention Center and Meet with Asylum Seekers at Mexican Border

Friday, August 9, 2019

San Diego, CA - Today, 11 Legislators from the California Legislative Jewish Caucus and the California Latino Legislative Caucus visited the Otay Mesa Detention Center and a Migrant Family Shelter operated by Jewish Family Services (JFS).  The delegation toured both facilities, conducted interviews with detainees at Otay Mesa, and met with migrant families at the JFS facility. Photos can be found on the Jewish Caucus website. The trip was organized by the Jewish Caucus, which has grown increasingly concerned with federal immigration policy and widespread reports of abuse and mistreatment of asylum-seekers at the southern border.


The delegation included: Jewish Caucus Chair, Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and Vice Chair, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley); Latino Caucus Vice Chair, Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles); Senators Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), and Henry Stern (D-Thousand Oaks); Assemblymembers Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto),  Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), Adrin Nazarian (D- Van Nuys); and Board of Equalization member Antonio Vazquez.



“It was at once powerful and heartbreaking to come face to face with the immigration crisis, and see the inspired work being done by JFS, ACLU and HIAS to overcome it,” said Senator Ben Allen, Chair of the Jewish Caucus. “These organizations are under-resourced, over-performing and need all of our support to help these courageous asylum seekers—many of whom are victims of war, domestic violence, and persecution— find a better life.”


“As a parent, it’s painful to witness families being separated and the abuses at our southern border,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Vice Chair of the Jewish Caucus. “But we cannot look away. We came here today to bear witness and to educate ourselves about what we can do to end this humanitarian crisis. Our Jewish, American, and California values demand that we help end the shockingly cruel and clearly unconstitutional mistreatment of refugees and asylum-seekers that is happening in our state and being done in our name.”


“We have a migrant crisis at our doorstep, and instead of greeting our brothers and sisters in need with open arms, we are throwing people in cages,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Vice Chair of the Latino Caucus. “The detention center my colleagues and I visited are no place for the many individuals who are rightfully seeking asylum. I am grateful that Jewish and Latino groups in the legislature and on the ground are joining together to help those in need.” 


“Today was a stark reminder that the immigration crisis is not a Twitter battle with Trump,” said Senator Henry Stern, a member of the Jewish Caucus. “It is thousands and thousands of very real people, each with their own personal tragedy, trapped in a dehumanizing bureaucracy built on small-minded politics.”


“This was a very powerful visit,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman, a member of the Jewish Caucus. “It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of so many people who are fleeing terrible situations to seek asylum in the United States. At the same time, it was uplifting to learn of the amazing work of organizations like Jewish Family Services to help these women, men, and children have a better life once they get here.”


“Today was a humbly experience as I joined my colleagues to listen to the heartbreaking stories of detained asylum seekers and refugees who came to the United States for a better life,” said Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, a member of the Jewish Caucus. “We need to end these inhuman policies that place politics over people.”


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