On June 24, I had the privilege of attending a rally in Charlotte, NC calling for the restoration and expansion of reproductive rights. The rally marked the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, which overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade to protect abortion access under US constitutional right to privacy.
Hundreds of North Carolinians who care deeply about reproductive freedom gathered to hear from elected officials who spoke alongside Vice President Kamala Harris. Responding to North Carolina’s new 12-week abortion ban that was slated to go into effect on July 1, VP Harris’ speech was delivered to inspire progressives to push back against the deluge of attempts to restrict and roll back reproductive rights across the country, particularly in North Carolina.
During her remarks, she also shared a number of the ways in which she and President Biden are working towards a holistic, progressive agenda. As excited and optimistic as I was to hear their plans, I was struck by the discordance between her words and the Administration’s record on protecting asylum seekers and other immigrants over the past few years. It is disheartening that their belief in liberty and freedom does not appear to extend to those who have no choice but to flee and seek asylum in the United States.
When Title 42 — a Trump-Era policy instituted to prevent immigration and asylum seeking under the guise of public health concerns related to the pandemic — came to an end, the Administration failed to take action. Instead of replacing Title 42 with a policy of increasing access to necessary resources and accommodations at the border, the executive branch chose to ramp up “removal flights” for those who enter the country unlawfully. This designation includes anyone who travels through another country on their way to the US without seeking asylum there, effectively preventing any non-Mexicans from seeking asylum by land. Of course, those who are crossing the US border by land are not doing so because it is the best or safest choice. Rather, they do not have the resources to book an expensive international flight. If only it were that easy.
In Jewish tradition, Ohev et HaTochachot is the practice of loving rebuke. Yes, giving and receiving constructive criticism is considered a Jewish value. We are taught that it is our responsibility to hold our own side accountable for their actions. One of the ways in which we can do this is to point out ways in which those we support politically take actions that are contradictory to their stated beliefs.
To be clear, I am not criticizing the current Administration because I think they’re bad outright. Rather, I am doing it because I believe they can do better. By bringing attention to this incongruity, my hope is that we can call on them to provide a remedy.
This starts with calling your Representative and urging them to stand with asylum seekers by voting ‘NO’ on HR 3234, a bill that would increase efforts to remove asylum seekers. We must also call on our Senators to vote ’NO’ on the corresponding S 1473. Further, join with HIAS in “welcoming the stranger,” and call on the Biden-Harris administration to honor its commitment to resettling more refugees.
Hannah Pomerantz is a Jewish Center for Justice Summer Fellow and rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.