Jewish Organizational Letter on Refugee & Asylum Priorities During COVID-19

May 1, 2020 Dear Member of Congress: We, the undersigned 192 national, state, and local Jewish organizations from around the United States, recognize that our country's needs during the COVID-19 crisis are vast, but strongly urge you to ensure that our country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes resettled refugees, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients, asylum seekers, and asylees. While many of us can safely socially distance ourselves within our homes, we are constantly reminded that the same is not true for many of our immigrant neighbors, many of whom are on the frontlines risking their own health and safety to keep our country running. Any measures aimed at combating COVID-19 that exclude immigrants place the whole country at risk. As Congress considers the next COVID-19 legislative package, we urge you to include provisions that will ensure that resettled refugees, especially recent arrivals, as well as SIV recipients and others who receive resettlement and integration services, also have access to the safety nets and literal life-saving services that so many of us need right now. Specifically we call on you to: • Provide $642 million in Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) funds for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is the minimum level of funding that resettlement experts have agreed is needed to support services that would help resettled refugees, SIV recipients, and asylees access cash and medical assistance, housing assistance, assistance with utilities, transportation, food, and health care so that they can stay healthy and keep their heads above water while it remains terribly difficult to find and keep employment and access health care. • Clarify that all resettled refugees and asylees and SIV recipients, including those admitted in 2019 and 2020, should be eligible for the direct cash rebates included in the CARES Act and any future economic relief measures. In addition to these important health and stimulus measures, we also urge you to push the administration to ensure that the fight against COVID-19 does not sacrifice fundamental refugee protections in the process. For example, while we understand why the U.S. put the U.S. refugee resettlement program largely on pause during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration should resume refugee arrivals as soon as public health experts deem that international travel is once again safe. The administration must also take all necessary steps, including the extension of security check validity periods, to ensure that the U.S. meets the FY2020 Presidential Determination of 18,000 refugee admissions. Moreover, efforts to curb the pandemic must not violate domestic and international laws. The U.S. should reverse recent policies that deny people access to the U.S. asylum system and due process at our borders. Asylum seekers cannot be turned away and denied the opportunity to seek asylum, even during a global health crisis. As Jews, we have a visceral understanding of what it means to be refugees. Our families came to the United States looking for safety and freedom just as today’s refugees do. Our shared histories and current circumstances reveal how we are all dependent on one another in ways that we perhaps could not have understood even just several weeks ago. We therefore ask that you provide the necessary safeguards detailed in this letter, and in doing so, help to protect all of us from the ravages of COVID-19 and the further decimation of our country’s core refugee protections. If you have any questions, please contact Naomi Steinberg (naomi.steinberg@hias.org) and/or Tammy Gilden (tgilden@thejcpa.org). Sincerely, HIAS Jewish Council for Public Affairs National 30 Years After ADL ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Ameinu American Jewish Committee American Jewish World Service Association of Rabbis and Cantors Avodah B’nai B’rith International Central Conference of American Rabbis Habonim Dror North America J Street Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma Jewish Labor Committee Jewish Women International Jewish World Watch Keshet Men of Reform Judaism National Council of Jewish Women Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies Rabbinical Assembly Reconstructing Judaism Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights The Shalom Center The Workers Circle Tikkun Tivnu: Building Justice Union for Reform Judaism Uri L'Tzedek Women of Reform Judaism Arizona Arizona Jews for Justice California Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of SIlicon Valley Congregation Kol Ami. Congregation Kol Shofar Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa Jewish Action NorCal Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley Jewish Justice Advocates of Temple Beth El of South Orange County Jewish Labor Committee Western Region Jewish World Watch Leo Baeck Temple Never Again Action - Bay Area Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles Temple Beth David Temple Beth El of South Orange County Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Temple Israel of Hollywood Colorado Aspen Jewish Congregation Colorado Jewish Community Relations Council Congregation Bonai Shalom Temple Micah Connecticut Federation for Jewish Philanthropy Upper Fairfield County Jewish Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven Temple Bnai Israel Delaware Jewish Family Services of Delaware Florida Jewish Community Relations Council of Broward County, FL Georgia National Council of Jewish Women, Atlanta Section The Temple Illinois Chicago Jewish Labor Committee Chicago Jews for Refugees Coalition Congregation Rodfei Zedek JCFS Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council of Springfield, IL Jewish Council on Urban Affairs Jewish Federation of Chicago Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Makom Solel Lakeside Mishkan Chicago National Council of Jewish Women, Chicago North Shore Section Oak Park Temple B'nai Abraham Zion Indiana Beth-El Zedeck Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley Temple Beth-El Kansas Jewish Community Relations Bureau|AJC, Kansas City Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation Kentucky Jewish Family & Career Services of Louisville Jewish Federation of Louisville National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section Ohavay Zion Synagogue Maine Congregation Beth El Social Action Committee Maryland Habonim Dror Camp Moshava Jews United for Justice Temple Beth Ami Massachusetts Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Jewish Family Service of Western Ma JVS Boston Temple Beth Shalom Tzedek Temple Etz Chaim Michigan Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation Birmingham Temple, Congregation for Humanistic Judaism Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC - Detroit Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor Temple B'nai Israel Minnesota Jewish Community Action Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis Mount Zion Temple National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Section Missouri Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis New Jersey Bnai Keshet Congregation Beth Sholom Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County New Jersey Jewish Coalition for Refugees Reform Jewish Voice of NJ Temple Emanu-El United Synagogue of Hoboken Refugee Support Committee New York Ansche Chesed B'nai Jeshurun Brotherhood Synagogue Congregation Beth Elohim Congregation Tehillah Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester Kane Street Synagogue, Brooklyn, NY Kolot Chayeinu / Voices of Our Lives Lab/Shul National Council of Jewish Women, New York State Policy Advocate SAJ-Judaism that Stands for All Temple Chaverim Temple Israel of the City of New York Village Temple Westchester Jewish Center Westchester Jewish Council North Carolina Carolina Jews for Justice Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency Jewish Community Refugee Initiative Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte Social Action Committee of Beth Meyer Synagogue Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice Ohio Jewish Community Board of Akron Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati Jewish Family Services, Columbus Oklahoma Jewish Federation of Tulsa Oregon Jewish Community Relations Council of Portland Pennsylvania HIAS Pennsylvania Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg Jewish Federation of Reading JFCS Pittsburgh Kesher Pittsburgh National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Philadelphia Section Or Hadash: a Reconstructionist Congregation Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee Rhode Island Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island South Carolina Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Charleston, Jewish Federation of Charleston, and Charleston Jewish Family Services Tennessee Congregation Micah Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and MIddle Tennessee National Council of Jewish Women, Tennessee Section The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable West End Synagogue Texas Congregation Agudas Achim Congregation Beth Israel Jewish Family Service Houston National Council of Jewish Women, Austin Section Temple Beth Shalom Texas Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-TX) Utah Chavurah B'Yachad National Council of Jewish Women, Utah Section Utah Jews for Refugees Virginia Community Relations Council, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater Congregation Ner Shalom Congregation Or Ami Temple Rodef Shalom United Jewish Community of the VA Peninsula Washington Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle JFS Seattle Washington, D.C. Fabrangen Havurah Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington Refugee Congress, Delegate Wisconsin Congregation Beth Israel Sinai Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun Congregation Sinai Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest Jewish Museum Milwaukee Milwaukee Jewish Federation Jewish Community Relations Council National Council of Jewish Women, Milwaukee Section Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee