Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's speech to Congress last week, 376 Jewish and other faith-based groups and organizations from around the U.S. signed a letter urging President Biden to take immediate steps to welcome refugees from Ukraine and reunite families. The letter was spearheaded by the Jewish Federations of North America.
“The Jewish community and our faith partners across the United States urge you take immediate steps to help Ukrainian civilians, including by expediting the resettlement of Ukrainians who are already in process to come to the United States thanks to their close family ties here,” the letter states.
“Our community stands ready to partner with your administration and work together, with our faith partners, to welcome and support these refugees arriving in the United States,” the letter continues. “In addition to our shared values, this history drives our commitment to supporting communities in need and welcoming those fleeing persecution.”
The letter also urges Biden to admit Ukrainians with pending immigrant visa petitions as refugees, as has been done in the past for Iraqis and Haitians during crises in their communities, pending appropriate security screenings. The step would allow these Ukrainians to reunite with their families in the United States rather than wait for months, or even longer, overseas.
Jewish Federations' network of social service agencies, houses of worship, and community centers have been supporting refugees for over a century - beginning with Eastern European Jews fleeing the pogroms, and today those seeking refuge in the U.S. from across the globe.
Jewish Federations of North America SVP of Public Affairs Elana Broitman - herself a refugee from Ukraine - said, “As a refugee who fled Ukraine as a young child, I have a deep understanding of the pain that today’s refugees are experiencing. I am grateful and proud to be in the position years later to lead advocacy efforts to ensure that the refugees of today will receive support, as my family received over 40 years ago."
Jewish Federations of North America President and CEO Eric Fingerhut said, “This is a most critical time for our nation as 3 million refugees are fleeing Ukraine. The United States has a moral responsibility to open its doors to refugees and remove all unnecessary bureaucracy so that we can ease their pain and help them rebuild their lives. Jewish Federations are committed to partnering with the current administration to step up and help with the relief and resettlement. So many members of the Jewish community have been refugees in this country, and that is why I am so proud that the Jewish community is now leading these efforts.”