Jewish tradition teaches that the corners of a four-cornered garment must be fringes of connection with the wider community. Fringes because a fringe is made up of my cloth and God's air. (Just as the food that grows in the corners of a field must not be eaten by the "owner" of the field but by the landless poor, the orphan, and the stranger.)From the metaphor of this tallit (prayer shawl) I suggest the sacred four fringes of the four-cornered garment of a decent US policy for addressing immigration, reaching beyond our borders to the wider human community. Good fringes, not good fences, make good neighbors.I’d be glad to hear comments and criticisms from you-all.Shalom, Arthur
(A) A whole new loving and welcoming way of dealing with new immigration applicants at all US borders;,(B) A new welcoming and inclusive approach toward immigrants (documented or not) already inside the US;(C) Addressing social chaos in specific nearby countries that is driving desperate people to seek refuge in the US;(D) Urgent response to global scorching, which is already driving many refugee flows and will be driving millions or billions more as the climate crisis worsens(A ) On new immigrationOn refugees, I would suggest we begin by learning from a very-on-point Torah passage, NOT because the Torah should be US law but because it is an early moral assertion that points toward the post-World War II international convention on refugees, because it speaks out of the spiritual roots of many Americaans, and because it might appeal to the worldview of some who start out by fearing immigration.
Deuteronomy 23:16-17: (pluralized to avoid specific gender naming): You shall not turn over to their masters slaves/servants who seek refuge with you from their masters. They shall live with you in any place they chooseamong your settlements within your borders [“gates”], where it is good for them. Do not mistreat them!”On new immigration more broadly:The US should each year name for the next five years a total number of immigrants for each year who can and will be absorbed by the US (perhaps based on a proportionate number of the Canadian immigrant allowance, proportionate to Canadian:US populations.)Within that number, NO country or community can be barred or quota’d.The US should make available enough money in grants to various agencies and organizations to cover this number of new immigrants to be educated, supported, & job-trained for two years in speaking English, in skills of active and empowered citizenship, & in vocational/ professional requirements in US.Priorities in acceptance: (1) Refugees; (2) Family connections with US residents; (3) Skills needed by the US economy.ALL officials who meet with prospective immigrants at ALL borders must have been trained as social workers, teachers of English as a second language, or in similar occupations, or have two years experience in organizations that have been working with immigrants already in the US. None shall be former police or law-enforcement officers. All must pledge to treat applicants for immigrant status with dignity and concern for their own desires, to be met as closely as possible within the law. Failure to do so is grounds for dismissal. The numbers of such officials shall be adequate to address the number of applicants.Children who arrive seeking asylum or admission as regular immigrants must be identified in retrievable ways in relation to ther parents or families. If they arrive with their family members they must not be separated. They must be permitted to receive books, toys, suitable clothing, and visits from teachers, relatives, lawyers, and social workers.(B ) In regard to all immigrants already in the US:The “Dreamer” group shall be eligible for citizenship on reaching the age of 18 or on having lived for seven years within the US, whichever comes later. All others shall be eligible for citizenship if they have been living within the US for 10 years without conviction of a felony involving the use of violence.(C ) Needs of specific nearby countriesThe US makes a special commitment of money and talent to countries from Mexico southward for a “Marshall Plan” coordinated with local communities (not necessarily with existing national governments) under a general rule of “maximum feasible participation by the poor” for job creation, just and stable governance, protection from gang or domestic violence, to make far more likely the desire of their citizens to live in their own communities and neighborhoods rather than emigrate to the US. ..(D ) Addressing the impact of climate crisis on migrationThe US undertakes the Green New Deal and also commits major funding to the UN special fund to help poor countries deal with global scorching.