No Retreat From Welcoming Immigrants and Refugees to America

By Cathryn Miller-Wilson, Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania

Given the constitutional and humanitarian concerns raised by President Trump’s immigrant and hias-logorefugee bans, DJOP asked Cathryn Miller-Wilson, Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania, to share her thoughts. The organization was founded in 1882 as the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants. Its original mission was to assist the influx of Eastern European Jews coming to the Philadelphia region fleeing the pogroms in Russia. Now known as HIAS Pennsylvania, the organization works to create a welcoming and secure environment for immigrants and refugees and their families – from any ethnic, cultural or religious background – and joins forces with other faith-based groups and the larger community to advocate for a fair and humane immigration system.

I appreciate this opportunity to address supporters of Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania. HIAS Pennsylvania’s mission is to provide legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds, in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. HIAS Pennsylvania advocates for just and inclusive public policies and practices. We meet the goals of our mission through four programs: the Immigration Legal Services Program, the Refugee Resettlement Program, the Citizenship Assistance Program, and the Asylee Outreach Program.

The three Executive Orders signed by President Trump on January 27 had an immediate and devastating impact on our clients and our agency. The first two orders called for massively increased law enforcement resources to be devoted to arresting, detaining and deporting more people. We saw this implemented this week with raids all over the United States and hundreds of people detained and deported. While the administration continues to insist that these “raids” are nothing new, there is, in fact, a major difference between what occurred this past week and what has occurred in the past, and that is enforcement priority. Past administrations have generally focused on those with criminal convictions and, in some cases, only violent criminal convictions.

The current administration has made it clear that every undocumented person is a priority. While they certainly have the authority to do this, it leaves chaos and instability in many of our communities. Many undocumented persons are parents of U.S. citizen children who could be sent to foster care as a result of their parents being deported. Many undocumented persons are fully employed, and their sudden absence from the workforce leaves employers unexpectedly short-staffed. Many undocumented persons were brought to this country when they were young children. This is the only country they have ever known. They do not know the language of their so-called country of origin, nor do they have any place to go in those countries that they barely, if at all, remember. HIAS Pennsylvania’s attorneys and accredited representatives are unable to keep up with the flood of panicked calls from our clients.

The third Executive Order was the cause of all of the chaos at the airport and is the subject of the current litigation in the 9th Circuit. This order is multifaceted. It contains a ban on all persons from Syria, a temporary ban for all persons from seven named Muslim-majority countries, and a temporary ban on the refugee resettlement program until security measures can be increased. Finally, it reduces the overall number of refugees that this country will accept from 110,000 to 50,000. A shamefully low number given that there are 63.5 million refugees in the world today.

All of the bans have been stayed by the Federal Court. The stay was put in place for many reasons, but the main one is that the Government was unable to produce any evidence that these bans were necessary or rational, and the State of Washington was able to show that it was more likely than not that they would be able to prove that it was discriminatory. We are, of course, thrilled at the current state of things regarding the bans, but unfortunately, prior to the Court’s orders, more than 100 people were detained across the nation and travel was severely disrupted overseas for several thousand more. HIAS Pennsylvania’s senior staff attorney, Ayo Gansallo, was co-counsel on the litigation affecting the Philadelphia detainees, and she and her colleagues were successful in bringing back the Syrians who were here legally, but nevertheless sent back to Qatar once they had arrived.

We anticipate on-going battles regarding immigration and refugee work and funding over the next four years. To learn more about our work and support it, go to For up to date information about actions we are taking, go to our Facebook page at


It’s Election Time…Again

By Bill Madwayget-out-and-vote_edited

Believe it or not, the 2017 Pennsylvania Primary Election is less than 100 days away. (Stop cringing.) The primary is on Tuesday, May 16. The 2017 election cycle focuses on township and borough offices, such as commissioners, supervisors, and school board members, and county and state judges, including one seat on the PA Supreme Court. In addition, two justices already on the PA Supreme Court will be facing retention elections, one Democrat and one Republican.

While races like these might not seem as important as a presidential or gubernatorial race, the positions at stake this year do have significant effects on our lives. Here’s one example. All of us are aware of the egregious gerrymandering of legislative districts in PA. But relief might be in sight. Our state legislative and Congressional districts will be redrawn after the 2020 Census. The PA Supreme Court plays a crucial role in the redistricting of state legislative districts. Democrats currently control the court, five justices to two. But a switch of only two justices would change the balance of power and make it very difficult for the Democratic Party to re-gain control of the PA Senate and House for the decade that follows.

That’s why I urge you to circle May 16 on your calendar and make plans to vote. I know what you’re thinking: “Why bother showing up for a primary election? Won’t most candidates be running unopposed?” That’s not entirely correct due to the odd practice of cross-filing. In PA, candidates running for local judicial positions (e.g., County Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia Municipal Court) and local school boards are permitted to run in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, if they gather enough signatures from members of each party on their nominating petitions. This means if a candidate wins both the Democratic and Republican primaries in a local judicial or school board race, he or she is virtually guaranteed to win in the general election. So if enough Democrats don’t show up on May 16, it’s possible we won’t have a Democratic choice in some races in the November 7 General Election.

So if you or someone you know is not registered to vote – or is registered, but wants to change his/her party affiliation – visit the registration section on to find out how to register online and the traditional way. Furthermore, if you expect to be away from your polling place on Election Day (e.g., at college, traveling, etc.), or you find it difficult to get to your polling location for health reasons, you can vote by absentee ballot. Click here for more information about this process.

Keep in mind that Pennsylvania is a closed primary state. This means only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary, and vice versa. Members of third-parties may only vote if their party is having a primary. Lastly, to see a list of the key dates and deadlines for the 2017 Pennsylvania election cycle, click here.

The Case for Hillary Clinton

Hillary ClintonThe two major party candidates running for President, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have sharply different visions for our country. Hillary wants to build on the progress of the past 8 years, unite our country, continue the fight for equal rights and opportunities for all, protect our environment, and keep our country and allies safe through strong, but smart policies and action.

On the other hand, Trump has and will to continue to divide our country through his hate-filled rhetoric. His economic policies will benefit the top 1% at the expense of the middle class and those climbing the ladder to the middle class. His trade policies will hurt, not help, America’s workers and consumers, and destabilize our international relationships. His proposed methods to keep America and the world safe are based on Constitutionally questionable tactics, bluster, and the over zealous use of force.

When it comes to Jewish values, Hillary has spent her adult years focusing on human rights, social justice, economic justice, and ending violence and oppression in America and across the globe. Through his words and deeds, Trump has shown himself to be completely at odds with Jewish values. Consider his divisive and untruthful rhetoric, fraudulent business practices, callous disregard for the less fortunate, and admiration of dictators.

While Hillary is a strong and reliable supporter of Israel, one cannot ignore the fact that despite his pandering, Trump has sent mixed and confusing messages regarding Israel’s safety, security, and economic growth. He also has made no effort to discourage his anti-Semitic and racist supporters in the alt-right.

Values, temperament, demeanor, and a lifetime of experience in public service do matter when selecting a President. For these reasons, and many more, Hillary Clinton is the best choice for President for all Americans, especially Jewish Americans. All of us must do everything we can to make sure Hillary Clinton is our next President. This is not a time to leave matters to someone else.

Update on DJOP’s 2016 Election Ad Campaign:

Why Your Vote Matters More Than Ever & What Else You Can Do To Make A Difference

To support Hillary Clinton, Katie McGinty, Josh Shapiro, and the rest of the Democratic ticket running in Pennsylvania, Democraticdjop-ad-exponent_final Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania (DJOP) will be running ads in the Jewish Exponent, the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, and The Philadelphia Inquirer urging Jewish voters to get to the polls on November 8 and vote Democratic. A draft of our ad appears on the right; click to enlarge.

For those of you who have already contributed to our campaign, our sincere thanks! If you haven’t contributed yet, or if you want to increase your contribution, you can donate right now by clicking here.

Why should you donate to our ad campaign? Besides the obvious answer – to help elect Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates – donating to the DJOP campaign offers you a tremendous return on your investment of $50, $100, $250, or more.

Why is this? For one thing, you know exactly how your contribution will be spent. Second, we’re not attempting to raise millions of dollars. Our goal is to raise $12,000, so every contribution we receive is significant.

Lastly, our ads are targeting people like you who can make a real difference in the outcome of the election. Although we are a relatively small community, we may be the deciding group in Pennsylvania, and as many experts are saying, as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the election. Hillary currently leads Trump 61% to 19% among Jewish voters nationwide. (See results of AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion.) But this will only matter if everyone in our community goes to the polls on November 8.

That’s why our ad campaign is so important, and why we need your help.Your contribution of $50, $150, $250, or more to Democratic Jewish Outreach PA will be used exclusively to purchase ads for the 2016 election cycle. To boost the credibility and persuasiveness of the ads, the names of all contributors will be listed, unless you request otherwise.

As an expression of our appreciation, if you contribute $50 or more to our ad campaign from September 28 through October 13, you will receive one ticket to our October 13 event, A Behind the Scenes Look: Ed Rendell on the 2016 Election, for each $50 you contribute. (Click here for more information about the event.) When you make your contribution to our ad campaign, there will be a link in your email receipt to a form you can use to specify whether you’d like to attend the event, and how you would like your name to appear in our ads. (You can also specify that you would like to remain anonymous.)

You can contribute online by clicking here. You can also donate by mailing a check, made payable to DJOP, c/o David Broida, 55 Booth Lane, Haverford, PA 19041.

Our great nation is truly at a crossroads. Through our combined efforts, we can elect Hillary, Katie, Josh, and the rest of Pennsylvania Democratic ticket. Thank you in advance for supporting Democratic Jewish Outreach of PA’s plans to do just that.

P.S.  Our ads will start appearing the last week of October. We need your contribution by October 15 to determine exactly how many ads we can buy, and to guarantee your name will be listed. So click here to make your contribution while it’s fresh in your mind.


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