Jonathan Greenblatt's Remarks at Capitol Hill Press Conference Regarding Family Separation Policy For Migrants

Jonathan Greenblatt press conference

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Washington, D.C.

June 19, 2018

Thank you, Vanita.

I want to thank Reverend Al Sharpton and Janet Murguía for helping to organize this event today, and I want to thank all of my colleagues for coming out. 

For those of you who don't know, the Anti-Defamation League, or the ADL, was founded in 1913 with the mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all, and I stand here today because what we are seeing is injustice plain and simple. The separation of children from their parents, as my colleagues have said, is amoral. It is wrong. Unfortunately, it is all too familiar. 

Too many in the Jewish community have experienced what it means to be a refugee, including my grandfather, including my wife, including my family. We know far too well how hard it is to pick up and flee another country and ask for refuge from violence, from persecution and from fear. All of us can agree that the process of processing and granting asylum, or not, must be orderly. But it also must be humane. 

And as a father, as a dad, I can't imagine anything worse than having one's child torn from their arms. And as a Jewish American, I am horrified by the echoes of this policy with our own peoples' history: promising a bath or a shower as a ruse to separate families, treating small children like common criminals, locking them up in cages at a warehouse-converted border detention facility, opening tent cities to house migrant children, denying them the love and support of their parents.

In the face of this horror, nearly 3,000 children forcibly separated from their parents by our government, we cannot look away and we will not look away. We cannot become numb to what is happening. We will elevate the stories of these families suffering unimaginable trauma, and we will make sure that the country pays attention in the midst of this moral crisis, and that is why we are here today. 

We are here to say that this must stop now. We are here to invoke that adage as they say of 'Never Again.' 

Those families, those children escaping persecution and violence, seeking a better life in these United States only to have their families torn apart, again, we cannot and will not look away or go numb. We will fight for them every step of the way because tearing apart these families does nothing, no matter what you hear, to make our country safer. 

Instead, it is a betrayal of our country. It is an attack on our values, and it diminishes us all. We should listen to the outcries of protests from religious leaders of all faiths, from political leaders, like the first lady herself. 

And look at this group here today. We come from many backgrounds, and sometimes we disagree with each other, but we will stand together in the face of a clear injustice, make no mistake. We will not allow this administration's cruel policies to tarnish our country. 

The Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, they have the power to stop this crisis and we will not let up. We will not give in until they do. They will stop the family separations and allow the immigrants the right to seek safety and asylum without fear for their children, without them being taken from them as cruel punishment. 

As long as this president, as long as this administration tears apart immigrant families, whether it's at the border or through arrests and detentions all over the country, whether it snatches them in schools, or courthouses, or other public places, please know that the ADL stands with our civil rights colleagues here today. 

We stand with these immigrant families here today, and we stand with these children now and forever because we will never, we will never stop fighting for our shared values of fairness and equality, and for our vision of America as a nation that believes in and strives for justice and fair treatment to all. 

Now if I might, let me introduce Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Illinois.