UPDATE: Message from OU President Moishe Bane about the OU’s meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions

14 Jun 2018

I am writing to update you on the Orthodox Union’s engagement and advocacy in the current debate over the U.S. government’s immigration enforcement policies at the border with Mexico.

The Orthodox Union’s position is clear; we are opposed to the Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy under which parents and children are separated. The OU holds this position based upon the Torah’s values which recognize the family unit as sacred and the building block of society.

In advocating for the reversal of this policy, we met privately last week with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, prior to his addressing our Leadership Mission to Washington, and expressed our concerns about the policy.

Further, the OU joined with other national Jewish organizations in signing a public letter to the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security. This letter clearly and unequivocally states its opposition to enforcement of the zero tolerance policy by separating children from parents.

This week, we anticipate Congress taking up legislation that will address the Administration’s policy and seeks to reverse it. The OU is working with key legislators with respect to this effort and expects to endorse the resulting legislation and advocate for it. We will continue to update you on proposed legislation as it develops.

Moishe Bane
President, Orthodox Union

June 14, 2018

In recent weeks, the United States government’s border enforcement policies have been the subject of considerable controversy and debate. In seeking to effectively police the borders and restrict illegal immigration, human trafficking and smuggling, the Trump Administration has implemented a “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, including steps that separate children from their parents.

As an Orthodox Jewish organization whose values are anchored in those of the Torah and Jewish history, we are deeply concerned about any steps taken that affect families and the parent/child relationship. The family is viewed by the Torah as a sacred institution and fundamental building block of society. The Orthodox Union has consistently advocated for an array of public policies designed to strengthen and protect the family unit. Thus, we believe that immigration, asylum and border security policies must also be fashioned and implemented in a manner that takes all steps possible to keep parents and children united.

In this regard, as in all aspects of public advocacy, we undertake our efforts – through our OU Advocacy Center – in the manner we assess will be most impactful, and will likely yield the greatest influence.  Toward that end, rather than advancing in the public domain our community’s concerns regarding current border policies, I and other leaders of the Orthodox Union took advantage of a private opportunity to raise these concerns, which occurred prior to the Attorney General’s address yesterday. Attorney General Sessions heard the concerns and questions of our community regarding these policies and offered his perspective and responses. Importantly, the Attorney General committed to further dialogue with the OU on this important topic, which we will pursue.

Attorney General Sessions addressed the OU Leadership Mission to Washington on the important topic of religious liberty.  We are very appreciative of Mr. Sessions’ remarks on this topic, which are important to the welfare of our community.  At the conclusion of our session with the Attorney General, I presented him with a token of our appreciation for his participation, as was done for everyone who spoke at the DC mission that afternoon, and exhorted him with the imperative found in the verse “tzedek, tzedek tirdof.” I noted the rabbinic commentary that the Torah repeats the word tzedek to direct us that the goal of justice must be pursued with means that are themselves just.

Over the course of decades, OU leaders have met with political officials across the spectrum for the purpose of advancing our community’s values and interests – and we will continue to do so. The Orthodox Union remains committed to effective advocacy work on behalf of our community.

Moishe Bane
President, Orthodox Union