On behalf of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota (JCRC), I write in response to yesterday’s op-ed, “Why DACA Is a Jewish Issue,” which takes our organization to task for not responding earlier to President Donald Trump’s decision to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, revoking protections for nearly 800,000 people, including more than 6,300 Minnesotans, who are now at risk of deportation and separation from their families.
Apparently, the writer felt compelled to draft his op-ed after the JCRC shared a piece on our Facebook page by our friend Rep. Frank Hornstein, which spoke positively of the impact a JCRC led trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had on his research assistant, a Dreamer who escaped the violence of her native Colombia when she was a young girl. In our post, we wrote that “[i]t is well past time that Congress and the President come to a bipartisan agreement to permanently fix DACA and allow Dreamers such as Maria to continue to make American great through their hard work and contributions which benefit us all.”
In this highly critical piece, it is erroneously stated that it was “[o]nly after the highly publicized protest in the Senate building, and a day before the vote on the spending bill deciding the future of DACA that would cause the government to shut down did any statement come out [from the JCRC] taking a stance on DACA.”
A quick Google search, however, would have revealed that on September 6, 2017 – just one day after President Trump’s September decision – the JCRC released a statement in which we made it clear that we “strongly oppose[d] the Trump Administration’s decision.”
Additionally, in our September statement, we declared that “Americans from all backgrounds have benefited from the talents and contributions of these young immigrants. These people, who are our neighbors, classmates, co-workers, friends and family, have placed their futures in the hands of our nation’s leaders by voluntarily participating in the DACA program with the hope that by so doing they might honor the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents, as well as lay the foundation for a better future for the next generation.”
We went on to write that “in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, where Americans from all backgrounds are coming together to rescue their neighbors and strangers alike, and the approach of Hurricane Irma, now more than ever is a time to pull our nation together and not literally pull families and communities apart.” Finally, we noted that the JCRC was “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our national colleagues … who have opposed the Administration’s repeal of DACA and/or called for the passage of the bipartisan ‘Dream Act of 2017,’ which offers permanent protection to these undocumented immigrants, within the six-month period set by the Administration.”
Beyond our September statement, which was also shared on our JCRC Facebook page and viewed by thousands, the JCRC has been in constructive dialogue with our Congressional delegation about the necessity of reaching a bipartisan and bicameral solution. We were also proud to organize an educational lunch on DACA and other immigration issues with leaders from our Jewish legal community and our partners in the Latino community.
In conclusion, while the JCRC like any community organization is not above criticism, we fail to see how highly inaccurate barbs directed at our organization are particularly productive in advancing the cause of the Dreamers or making Minnesota and the United States a more welcoming and inclusive home for all who live within our borders.
Ethan Roberts is Director of the Twin Cities Jewish Community Government Affairs Program