L’shana tova
Time again, according to the Jewish calendar, to celebrate the New Years by looking inwards.  But we do not simply take account of our individual actions over the last year, we also look at our community’s actions.  Each year on Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur we traditionally recite the Viduy prayer.  No matter our personal accounting, the synagogue’s walls echo with a call for collective forgiveness.  Together, the community chants: We have been guilty, we have betrayed, we have stolen, we have spoken falsely… This prayer, coupled with the mournful call of the shofar, or ram’s horn, demands that we each humbly repent for our neighbor’s vices in addition to our own. 

Every New Year we face this religious reckoning which demands us to support each other and to hold our community accountable to itself and to forgive itself.  This year, in the Bay Area, such demands could not be timelier.

Two summers ago a brutal murder in San Francisco by an undocumented youth caused major fallout.  Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco decided, after a tremendous amount of xenophobic pressure, that the only solution to appease this pressure was to weaken its Sanctuary City laws that protect undocumented youth.

Overnight, the city went from one of the most forgiving cities to those youth who have transgressed civil immigration laws to one of the most draconian.  Today, any youth thought to be undocumented and picked up by the San Francisco Police Department for a criminal offense (SFPD) gets transferred without trial to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

For undocumented youth today, the SFPD are their jury, and ICE is their judge.

After over a year of struggle, our community is ready to both forgive and to hold itself accountable.  On October 5, 2009, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee will discuss legislation to allow undocumented youth their day in court.  Under the Undocumented Immigrant Youth Ordinance, only youth found guilty of violating criminal laws can be transferred to ICE.

Righting this wrong will make all Bay Area residents safer by easing tensions between San Francisco’s undocumented community and the police.  It will also restore some justice to an unjust system.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ vote on this Ordinance is scheduled for October 13, 2009.  Organizers expect Mayor Newsom to veto the new law, so having a veto proof majority of eight (8) supervisors supporting the Ordinance is critical.  Today, we have that support, but we need you to maintain it.

Please contact Supervisor Bevan Dufty and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell to thank them for cosponsoring this critical legislation that ensures due process for San Francisco’s youth.  Ensure their support by calling or emailing them today.

And after standing with San Francisco undocumented youth, make your voice heard for just comprehensive immigration reform.  Click here to email your President and congressional representatives and make your voice heard today.

Bevan Dufty (415) 554-6968: Bevan.Dufty@sfgov.org, cc his aides at Boe.Hayward@sfgov.org and Nicolas.King@sfgov.org

Sophie Maxwell (415) 554-7670: Sophie.Maxwell@sfgov.org, cc her aides at Jon.Lau@sfgov.org, Alice.Guidry@sfgov.org

Sample Text:

As a Jewish community member of the Bay Area and Progressive Jewish Alliance, I thank [Supervisor Dufty, Supervisor Maxwell] for co-sponsoring the Undocumented Immigrant Youth Ordinance introduced by Supervisor Campos.  In the spirit of the Jewish New Year’s which teaches understanding and atonement, the Ordinance is a reasonable measure that ensures due process to children and that restores our city’s reputation for fairness, tolerance and justice.