Timeline: OU Advocacy on Immigration/Family Reunification

As an Orthodox Jewish organization whose values are anchored in those of the Torah and Jewish history, the Orthodox Union is deeply concerned about any steps taken that affect families and the parent-child relationship.

The family is viewed by the Torah as a sacred institution and fundamental building block of society. The Orthodox Union has consistently advocated for an array of public policies designed to strengthen and protect the family unit. Thus, we believe that immigration, asylum and border security policies must also be fashioned and implemented in a manner that takes all steps possible to keep parents and children united.

As our nation faces a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, with children separated from their parents, we must take a stand. Following are some of the steps we’ve taken both historically and more recently in a direct effort to oppose the Trump Administration’s now-rescinded “zero-tolerance” policy and prevent such practices in the future.

19XX – 2018: OU’s Convention Resolutions have noted that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants and benefits “from the contributions of the constant flow of eager newcomers.  While we join the organized Jewish community in its opposition to illegal immigration, we stand against governmental denial of basic educational and health services to U.S. residents.

The Orthodox Union is particularly concerned that punitive measures taken against “illegals” could lead to a severe public health crisis and to the denial of such services to legal immigrants.” The Orthodox Union “must work closely with other organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, to work for vigorous enforcement of Federal immigration statutes while combating any efforts to deny basic health and educational services to any person residing legally in the United States and to combat the denial of civil liberties which may result from these anti-immigrant sentiments.”

June 13: Ahead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ address on religious liberty at the OU’s annual Leadership Mission to Washington, D.C., OU leadership meets privately with Sessions to raise concerns about the administration’s zero-tolerance policy. Sessions commits to further dialogue with the OU.

June 14: Orthodox Union issues statement about its June 13 meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, noting concern about any steps taken by the government that affect  families and the parent-child relationship. In underscoring the sanctity of the family unit, the OU states that immigration, asylum and border security policies must be fashioned and implemented in a manner that takes all steps possible to keep parents and children united.

June 18: The OU issues statement opposing the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy under which parents and children are separated and joins with other national Jewish organizations in signing a public letter to the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security. This letter clearly and unequivocally states its opposition to enforcement of the zero tolerance policy by separating children from parents.

June 20: President Trump rescinds separation order

June 22: The OU, along with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meets with Attorney General Sessions to reiterate the OU’s objections to any steps by the administration to separate families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

June 28: In an article in Mishpacha Magazine, OU Advocacy Center Executive Director Nathan Diament writes that the administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is “unacceptable and at odds with Jewish values and the Jewish historical experience.”  The Orthodox Union’s decision to host Attorney General Jeff Sessions to speak about religious freedom at its annual mission to D.C. aligns with the OU’s long-standing policy of “meeting with political officials across the spectrum for the purpose of advancing our community’s values and interests. This is one of the essential roles our organization plays as a representative body of the frum community.”

July 9: OU Advocacy executive director Nathan Diament meets with a Senior Administration Official at The White House for further discussions about the Administration’s border enforcement policies and the need to expedite the reunification of parents and children.

July 16: A federal judge states that the government is in “substantial compliance” in meeting the deadline set for government officials to reunify children younger than 5 years old with their families. The judge plans to hold status hearings until all children are reunited. The next deadline for all children to be returned to their parents – regardless of age – is July 26. We urge the government to act as swiftly as possible to bring families back together, and we will be monitoring this progress until the process is complete.