Immigration issues continue to receive prominent attention on national and local levels. In the wake of the electoral success of Proposition 187 in California, the United States, a land of successive generations of immigrants, is lurching toward a new phase of anti-immigrant sentiment that will affect areas of American life ranging from employment and education to social services and personal liberties.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations has long supported a fair and generous immigration policy. Our people were and continue to be immigrants to this nation. We have benefited from its open doors, and suffered when they were closed. We struggled to adjust to a society that did not always welcome our arrival. We understand the problems faced by today's immigrants, as well as the difficulties attributable to the problem of illegal immigration.
Our tradition demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. We know that the alien and the foreigner should be treated with respect and welcomed, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt. Yet we also must support the territoria l integrity of the United States and the governance of its laws. As the United States Commission on Immigration Reform explores the current state of immigration policy and suggests improvements to be made in the system, and as new legislation is proposed to confront issues raised by legal and illegal immigration, we support those efforts that co mpassion ately seek to regulate and to aid newcomers to this land but we oppose those that will unduly restrict immigration or burden the lives of legal immigrants.
THEREFORE, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolves to:
1. Support maintaining legal immigration at least at its present level, especially the number of immigrants admitted for family reunification;
2. Support maintaining for legal immigrants those services and benefits to which they are now entitled by law;
3. Oppose the establishment of a national employment registry, with its potential for error and confusion of identities, or any requirement that legal immigrants carry national identity cards, which would jeopardize the civil liberties and privacy rights now guaranteed to both citizens and immigrants;
4. Support the continued provision of basic services such as essential health care and childhood education to undocumented immigrants and workers;
5. Oppose legislation that would require teachers, health care workers, and others to report "suspected" undocumented aliens to immigration authorities;
6. Support federal reimbursement of state governments for disproportionate costs incurred in providing basic health, education, and social services to immigrants;
7. Support federal and state efforts to prevent illegal immigration. These efforts should include the rapid expulsion of those caught entering or in the United States illegally, in keeping with due process, provided that the offenders do not qualify as political refugees; and
8. Encourage congregations to assist immigrants to become citizens of the United States and Canada.