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How to Achieve Humanitarian Aid and Sensible and Humane Immigration Laws

by Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

The Adelanto Detention Center facility is seen in a file photo. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Dear fellow members of the Temple Beth El community,

Our hearts ache to see the deplorable living conditions imposed upon immigrants and refugees—and especially the hundreds of children—who have been held in detention camps along our nation’s southern border.

Reports of their going without soap for hygienic purposes, of their sleeping on cold concrete floors with only a foil thermal blanket for a cover, of their receiving inadequate medical care and insufficient nutrition, stun the mind.

We as a nation can act better than this, especially toward those who wish to come to our country seeking a life of liberty and possibility, just as our Jewish ancestors did in the last 150 years, and as did our secular ancestors who came to our shores before the establishment of our country.

Please see below for a list of resources for education and action at this critical time in our nation’s history. This list was lovingly put together by our Social Action Committee and our Urgency of Now Immigrant Action Team, and I am deeply appreciative of their efforts.

Our nation has the potential for acting in great and humane ways. Let us help our elected officials recall that potential at the crucial moment in time.


Rabbi Jonathan Biatch


How to Achieve Humanitarian Aid and Sensible and Humane Immigration Laws


Children should not be dying at the border. The United States needs an immigration policy that combines border security, justice, and humanity. The stalemate on immigration is a choice that Americans do not have to accept. You can help end it.


Here’s how:

Learn: Here is a set of immigrant rights resources compiled by our Temple Beth El Urgency of Now Immigrant Action Team:

Call Congress, your mayor, and your local representatives. Contact your members of Congress and tell them that you want impending raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be called off and detention conditions improved:

Tammy Baldwin –, 202-224-5653

Ron Johnson –, 202-224-5323

Mark Pocan –, 202-225-2906

You can also reach out to your local officials to ask that they initiate plans to help immigrant communities that are affected by the raids. The government website provides links to finding your city, county, and town officials.

Report and document raids and arrests. The National Immigration Law Center has suggested reporting raids to local hotlines, such as United We Dream’s MigraWatch.  The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services [RAICES] has urged that people verify any social media posts saying ICE has been spotted before sharing or retweeting them because false alarms could spread fear in immigrant communities.


Donate to humanitarian efforts. Many immigrants are not informed of their legal and civil rights as they pursue asylum or face deportation. Several nonprofits are providing free legal representation and other services for immigrants and the families of those detained. United We Dream, the American Civil Liberties Union, Mijente, Immigrant Families Together and the Immigrant Justice Corps are coordinating advocacy and services at a national level. Local organizations providing legal aid include the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York, Las Americas in El Paso and RAICES in Texas, Americans for Immigrant Justice in Florida and the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund in Colorado. Locally you can help through Together and Free, supporting a local Honduran family, and the Dane County Immigrant Assistance Fund, supporting local undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers. Please check online to see how to make contributions.

Pilar Weiss, project director of the National Bail Fund Network, says one of the most effective ways to reunite immigrants separated from their families is to assist with paying their bail, which can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $80,500. You can find and donate to a bail fund in your city through the National Bail Fund Network.


Inform yourself and your community. The A.C.L.U., which joined forces with Brooklyn Defender Services, has shared a “Know Your Rights” page for encounters with ICE. It has also provided a video to help understand your rights and what to do if ICE officials come to your home.


This coming Sunday, June 30, 2:00–4:00 pm, come to a “Know Your Rights” seminar here at Temple Beth El. For yourself, or for your work in the future with the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, understanding your role and responsibilities is crucial.


Hold political candidates accountable. While the presidential primaries are at least seven months away, you can prepare to cast your ballot for a more humane border policy by following what each candidate has shared about his or her plans for immigration reform.

Speak up. Protest marches and other civic actions to end detention camps and squalid conditions for children and families are expected across the country in the coming weeks. You can also take part in Lights for Liberty, a nationwide vigil on Friday, July 12. The location for the vigil in Madison is at Brittingham Park, 829 West Washington Avenue, 7:15–9:15 pm.

Adapted from the New York Times, Opinion, June 24, 2019.



May 26, 2020 3 Sivan 5780