National day of Jewish action on refugees planned for Sunday
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National day of Jewish action on refugees planned for Sunday

The Jewish resettlement agency HIAS is planning a national day of Jewish action on refugees with rallies planned in nearly a dozen states.

Rallies are scheduled to be held in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Denver and San Francisco, among others. The New York rally will be held in Battery Park, in view of the Statue of Liberty.

Sunday’s actions are being co-sponsored by a number of national Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish World Service, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the rabbinical associations of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements.

“We – our local community, and the Jewish community writ large – are going to fight this, together,” says a planning document HIAS created to promote the Sunday action. “Our history and our values as Jews and Americans compel us to do so. We are a powerful force and will raise our voices together about what is right and just, and hold our elected officials and our government accountable.”

HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, has emerged as one of the Jewish community’s most vocal opponents of Trump’s executive order on immigration, which halted the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and suspended refugee resettlement for Syrian refugees indefinitely.

On Tuesday, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint in federal district court on the refugee agency’s behalf alleging that the order is unconstitutional because it gives preference to persecuted religious minorities once the refugee resettlement program is resumed.

“As an organization that has long partnered with the U.S. government, litigation is unprecedented for HIAS, but we feel we have no other choice,” HIAS President Mark Hetfield said in a statement. “We cannot remain silent as Muslim refugees are turned away just for being Muslim, just as we could not stand idly by when the U.S. turned away Jewish refugees fleeing Germany during the 1930s and 40s. Our history and our values, as Jews and as Americans, require us to fight this illegal and immoral new policy with every tool at our disposal — including litigation.”

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