Driving Dreamers back into the shadows would force an entire generation into economically vulnerable positions. Undocumented young adults are often unable to obtain higher-paying jobs, earn a college degree, or gain access to basic privileges like a driver’s license, which they often need to get to and from work.
Celebrating Purim with Action
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to decline to take up a key case dealing with the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, was a blow to attempts to expel the 690,000 young people, who were brought to the US as children by their parents, from the only homeland they’ve ever known. These young people who are working, going to school, and serving in our military, are safe from exile for now, but as their future status hangs in the balance in the courts, Avodah is showing up and speaking out for our immigrant neighbors, families, and friends, as we work toward creating a more just world.
In the Purim story, we celebrate the courage of Queen Esther, a woman who put her life on the line in order to save her people when a ruthless leader threatened their lives. Now, we are embodying Esther’s spirit and doing the same for immigrant children and families. As Avodah’s Rabbi-in-Residence Danya Ruttenberg wrote in Monday’s Washington Post, “This year, we are all Esther in America’s own Purim story.” As Rabbi Ruttenberg explains, even though Esther, a closeted Jew and the King’s wife, was unlikely to be affected by Haman’s decree to wipe out all of the Jews of Persia, “her privilege carries with it the responsibility to put herself on the line for those in need.” Today, Jewish Americans are largely safe from threats of exile, and with that privilege, we too have an obligation to stand up to power to protect vulnerable populations.
These young people, who have only known the United States as their home, voluntarily registered to be part of DACA, paying hefty registration fees and providing personal information. Thanks to the protection afforded by DACA, talented young people are working in positions in line with their skills and training, providing a path for economic sustainability that can break the cycle of poverty. Dreamers spend their earnings on purchases throughout their communities, which generates jobs as businesses strive to meet the higher demand for goods and services. According to recent surveys, 97 percent of DACA recipients are employed or are attending college or graduate school. And, DACA doesn’t just spur economic growth for recipients, but for entire communities, as well — 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ one or more Dreamers. They are important and contributing members to our neighborhoods.
Through our own Jewish American immigration stories, we know how important a clear path to citizenship has been for our people. That is why on Monday at Chicago’s Federal Building, Avodah and our partners, including The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, HIAS, Protected By Faith, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Silverstein Base Hillel, Reform IL, NCJW – Chicago North Shore Section, and members of the Jewish community from across Chicago joined together to stand in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors and families.
As we celebrate the heroines of our past this Purim, Avodah is also building the next generation of Jewish leaders – the Esthers and Mordechais – of tomorrow. That’s why our Service Corps members are working with some of the best organizations in the immigration field, including Mil Mujeres, New York Legal Assistance Group, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Sanctuary for Families, and many more.