Forward Thinking

This is a Sanctuary?

By Jane Eisner

  • Print
  • Share Share

In just four days, at the end of this month, special benefits will run out for up to 4,600 refugees and assylees who fled persecution and affliction and were invited to live in America. These people are extremely poor, often disabled or very old, and because of that, they are unable to go through the process to become naturalized citizens.

So, they were given special dispensation to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration. But those benefits run out September 30. And all summer long, immigration advocates have been trying to get the attention of a few good people in Congress to extend benefits for this tiny, but very needy population.

In a Congress that won’t even offer disaster aid to its own citizens, you can imagine how well this humanitarian gesture is playing.

When I wrote about this last July, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Democrat, was eager to wave the flag for these refugees and promised to push for an extension of benefits.

“As Americans, we are proud to offer sanctuary for those fleeing war, violence and persecution,” she said in a statement to the Forward. That was then. Now, Gillibrand’s office won’t return repeated phone calls and emails, and seems to have gone into hiding on the issue.

Senator Charles Schumer, the other New York Democrat, originally tried to get a 10-year extension of benefits, and figured out how to pay for it with an additional fee on visas, a plan which received the blessing of the Congressional Budget Office. But that solid fix also has been dropped, in favor of a one-year extension that needs to be approved in the next few days.

It bears repeating: These benefits are not for the “illegal aliens” so many politicians love to hate. They are not for people who somehow are refusing to become citizens. They are for poor, old, infirm refugees whom we have invited into our country, and who just need a little help from the federal government to survive. Why offer them sanctuary at all if we can’t do that?


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.