“Immigration: Important Issues to Consider”

On Sunday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. in the David G. Willens Community Room of the Jewish Federation of Collier County (2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 2201, Naples), the Humanistic Jewish Havurah is pleased to present an informative forum on a major issue facing our economy, our public policy and our conscience, “Immigration: Important Issues to Consider.”

Our guest speakers will be Kristina O’Hern, Immigration Assistance Program Specialist for Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee, and her colleague, Grey Torrico, a community organizer and law student who is dedicated to addressing the issues of immigration and detention in Florida and nationally. This program will reveal information about a topic that is often mentioned in political discourse locally, nationally and internationally, but rarely reported on accurately and in depth by the news media. They will discuss the current climate around immigration and what you can do to support and defend immigrants living in Florida.

Immigrants are helping to grow the U.S. economy everywhere, but our inefficient visa system denies Florida the agricultural labor necessary to keep up with growing demand for produce, forcing a shift to imported fruits and vegetables. In order to build and expand our own economy, we need immigrants who fill labor shortages on America’s farms, who start businesses that employ U.S. workers, and who develop the cutting-edge products that make America the world’s preeminent innovation hub.

The share of foreign-born students in universities’ STEM graduate programs is much higher than the share of foreign-born people that make up our population and higher than the number of graduate STEM students who are citizens. Yet because of our immigration policies many of these foreign graduates face significant obstacles to settling in the US., even when they prove they can add real economic value.

While there is the issue of immigrants within our borders, there is also the refugee situation to consider.

Recently, the Society for Humanistic Judaism issued a resolution joining the majority of our Jewish community (as represented by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, National Council of Jewish Women, Union for Reformed Judaism, and Jewish Council for Public Affairs) in supporting the call for Congress to support the U.S. refugee resettlement program for the millions of Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee conflict in the Middle East.

“Recognizing the enormous humanitarian crisis unfolding, and our particular responsibility as Jews whose entire historical perspective includes our people wandering from shore to shore in search of refuge, we condemn efforts to suspend the program or explicitly exclude Muslims because of fears of terrorism. We believe the legitimate security concerns can be mitigated by the extensive vetting process refugees undergo before being admitted to the United States. We cannot let fear, however palpable, overcome our humanistic obligations to provide security to millions of innocent people who have been forced to start their lives again and who only wish to provide a future for themselves and their children.” (www.shj.org/resolutions)

Humanistic Judaism embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines rational thinking with a deep connection to the Jewish people and Jewish culture. Humanistic Judaism integrates the celebration of Jewish identity with the belief that using human reason and human power is the best vehicle for improving the world. In order to make intelligent decisions and form knowledgeable opinions, Humanists obtain their knowledge by seeking to understand the facts and accepting the reality of a situation. In our search for truth about immigrants and refugees, we must open our minds to understanding the myriad facets of each situation.