Jewish Organizations Oppose Family Separation


In response to the U.S. government’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, HIAS joined a national Jewish letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The letter, sent on June 12, 2018 was originally signed by 26 national organizations.

As of June 21, nearly 350 national, state and local Jewish organizations have added their name to urge the cabinet officials to rescind this cruel policy and “uphold the values of family unity and justice on which our nation was built.” Read more below.

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen,

On behalf of the 26 undersigned national Jewish organizations and institutions, we write to express our strong opposition to the recently expanded “zero-tolerance” policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border. This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people.

As Jews, we understand the plight of being an immigrant fleeing violence and oppression. We believe that the United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat the stranger reflects on the moral values and ideals of this nation.

Many of these migrant families are seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence in Central America. Taking children away from their families is unconscionable. Such practices inflict unnecessary trauma on parents and children, many of whom have already suffered traumatic experiences. This added trauma negatively impacts physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of early death.

Separating families is a cruel punishment for children and families simply seeking a better life and exacerbates existing challenges in our immigration system. It adds to the backlog of deportation cases and legal challenges in federal courts, places thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and shelters, endangers the lives of more children, and instills additional fear in people seeking safety in our country. In addition, those seeking asylum or other legal protection face numerous obstacles to making a claim, especially from detention. Separating family members at the border would force families into two or more immigration cases instead of a single case for each family, harming their ability to present a successful case.

Our Jewish faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just. We urge you to immediately rescind the “zero tolerance” policy and uphold the values of family unity and justice on which our nation was built.


American Conference of Cantors

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

American Jewish World Service

Anti-Defamation League

B’nai B’rith International

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.


Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Labor Committee

Jewish Women International

Men of Reform Judaism

National Association of Jewish Legislators

National Council of Jewish Women

Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement

Rabbinical Assembly

Reconstructing Judaism

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

The Workmen's Circle

T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Union for Reform Judaism

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Uri L'Tzedek, The Orthodox Social Justice Movement

Women of Reform Judaism

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