Statement on SCOTUS Actions

June 29, 2017
By Avi Rose

We at JFCS East Bay are dismayed by the June 26 Supreme Court ruling on the president’s executive order commonly known as the “travel ban” or “Muslim ban.” We are particularly concerned about refugees seeking to join us in our community to rebuild their lives with freedom, safety, and hope.

The new court ruling has sown a fresh wave of fear and uncertainty among refugees and those who are committed to helping them. The ruling states that those who have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” are exempt from the ban. From information released today, it is clear that “bona fide” is being interpreted very narrowly by the administration–which will be contested in court by refugee advocates. According to the overly restrictive government guidelines, resettlement agencies like ours will not be considered as an “entity,” even though refugees develop deep relationships with the agencies that support them. In addition, familial relationships are being arbitrarily categorized, creating the likelihood that grandparents, aunts, uncles, fiancés, and cousins will not be able to reunify with family members. And we are extremely concerned for the LGBTI refugees we’re awaiting, who come to the country with no family ties; in fact, tragically, many of them are fleeing their own families.

It is well known that refugees are already subject to what knowledgeable people would characterize as “extreme vetting” over a period of at least eighteen months—usually much longer—before being permitted entry to the United States. They are screened repeatedly and redundantly. Imposing the travel ban on them will do absolutely nothing to increase the security of our country; it will only increase people’s suffering.

We continue to believe that the travel ban is fundamentally based on religious discrimination. And we continue to believe that it echoes some of the ugliest chapters in Jewish history, with gates slammed shut in our faces as we sought a place to survive. JFCS East Bay will not stand here silently while that fate is imposed on others. We will keep standing up for the people we serve, including our participation as a co-plaintiff in one of the ACLU lawsuits challenging the executive order. We will be proud to take this stand for as long as necessary.

We are so honored to work in partnership with our powerfully committed and generous community to welcome refugees to the Bay Area. Together, we are being faithful to our agency’s watchwords: Compassion in Action, Commitment to All.