On Monday night, September 20th, Fred Toback, Chair of the ADL Boulder Steering Committee, testified before the Boulder Human Relations Committee on behalf of ADL’s Boulder Office. Here is the full text of the testimony:
I’m Fred Toback, the Chair of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boulder Steering Committee.
ADL is pleased to participate in this important meeting tonight, and we recognize and thank the Boulder Human Relations Commissioners for their service to our City and for soliciting input on this very important topic of immigration reform. We stand, tonight and every day, proudly with our friends in the immigrant and civil rights communities to fight bigotry, prejudice and discrimination.
We in the Jewish community know too well the ugly history of anti-immigrant backlash when it was directed at our parents and grandparents. We do not want to see that history repeated for any individual or group. We know from our own experience and from the experience of other immigrant groups in America that when a society begins to demonize a group as less deserving of rights, less worthy, less human, less equal– then discrimination, exploitation, and worse follows. We cannot let the task of fighting hate fall to its victims alone.
ADL is outraged by the hate words and hate violence that have targeted Latinos in this country. The immigration debate has become a flashpoint for racist and neo-Nazi extremist groups who foment bigotry and blame immigrants for all of our country’s problems. We are concerned that their hateful rhetoric is taking hold with too many in the mainstream community, and we are dismayed by the deterioration of civil discourse, as well as the increase in vigilantism. Legitimate debate about what US immigration policy should look like is welcome; racism and xenophobia are not ever a part of legitimate debate.
We encourage the Human Relations Commission to strongly advocate that City Council take a formal stand in favor of federal, comprehensive immigration reform and that Council lobby State and Federal elected officials to make reform a reality.
Comprehensive immigration reform is a term that is often used without enough definition. Let’s be specific. The Boulder City Council should adopt a legislative agenda and lobby for the following: a real path to the legalization of undocumented residents, a plan for the future flow of legal workers, and a commitment to the reunification of divided families. What cannot continue is just more of the same enforcement. Here are ADL’s five components of comprehensive immigration reform:
- Human Rights. Immigration reform legislation must recognize and protect the basic human rights of immigrants and must support the humane treatment of undocumented persons
- Border Control. Immigration reform should involve a broad border security strategy which includes fair and humane treatment of those who enter or attempt to enter the United States.
- Earned Legalization. ADL supports the crafting of a path to legalization to immigrants who are already contributing to this country to regularize their immigration status upon satisfaction of reasonable criteria and, over time, pursue an option to become lawful permanent residents and eventually United States citizens.
- Temporary Worker Program. Because our economy will continue to attract and to depend on foreign workers, a temporary worker program should be developed that takes into consideration fairness and humane treatment of the participants.
- Education and Human Services. ADL supports equal access to available human services, including healthcare and public education, without discrimination based on immigration status. In particular, the DREAM Act, which is currently awaiting a Senate vote, needs to become the law of our land.
ADL has an excellent curriculum, “Challenging Anti-Immigrant Bias” that we invite you and Council to view at www.adl.org. There are specific lessons for elementary, middle and high school-age students. We hope that you will encourage City Council to endorse this curriculum and encourage all of our City schools to utilize this no-cost curriculum as a tool for fighting xenophobia and bigotry in this community.
We also encourage the HRC and City Council to continue to utilize the “natural resources” we have in this City: ADL and the many other groups and individuals working on this vital issue. Thank you for your commitment to justice and fair treatment for all and for considering our input. Please encourage City Council to get behind and work toward reformation of America’s immigration policy, making it one that is fair and humane and consistent with rule of law, national interest and compassionate treatment.