The Jewish Community Relations Council opposes bias in any form against any group or individual. The Council works closely with schools, civic institutions and other faith community leaders to foster an environment that embraces diversity and creates a greater understanding amongst people of all faiths and backgrounds. In our advocacy efforts, we also pursue legislation that fights bias and supports diversity in the Commonwealth.
The organized Jewish Community has long supported a generous immigration policy in light of the modern Jewish historical experience and the belief that an open, pluralistic society benefits all. The Jewish Community remains especially concerned about the scapegoating of immigrants and increases in discrimination.
The Council, in its evaluations of the issue, comes to the following conclusions:
· The Council supports a policy of liberal immigration, particularly with respect to family reunification and acceptance of refugees fleeing from persecution.
· The Council supports maintaining eligibility of social services and benefits for legal immigrants and refugees.
· The Council supports humane efforts to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States but opposes legislation that would deny health and education benefits to illegal immigrants, and their children. Such efforts should include stronger enforcement of existing immigration law, particularly regarding expired visas and increases in resources such as for border patrols and better enforcement of employer sanction laws.
· The Council urges the federal government to provide impact aid to reduce the financial burden of absorbing immigrants, disproportionately borne by certain state and local governments.
· The Council supports educational programs that foster tolerance and understanding of immigrant populations and that separate myth from reality regarding the impact of immigration on jobs and social services. Programs that provide education for immigrants and promote U.S. Citizenship should be strengthened as well.
In 1994, the hate crimes law strengthened penalties against those who commit crimes motivated by hostility toward a victim’s minority group. Though the law has been successful in addressing most hate crimes, it does not include those crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. The JCRC urges the Virginia General Assembly to revisit this issue and to add crimes based on one’s sexual orientation to the existing law.
Full Civil Equality for Same Sex Couples
The Jewish Community Relations Council strongly affirms the right of faith communities to prescribe their own standards for recognizing religious marriage. However, civil recognition of committed relationships is different from sanctification of marriage, which is the province of religion. Committed same sex relationships promote family and social stability and are no less deserving of full recognition under civil law than the committed relationship of a man and woman. We therefore support the full civil recognition of same sex relationships at all levels of government and oppose efforts to discriminate against persons based on sexual orientation.