Newsmakers of 2007
By Jewish Standard Staff | Published January 4, 2008
Michael Wildes: Taking Action on Immigration
New Jersey ranks third in the nation in the number of foreign-born residents as a percentage of the population. Of these, 5 percent - or some 400,000 people - are undocumented, according to the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network. The state is seeking to correct that.
In August, Gov. Jon Corzine created the Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Policy. Serving on that panel is longtime immigration lawyer Michael Wildes, mayor of Englewood, who has brought a distinctively Jewish voice into the conversation.
Pointing out that the Talmud equates silence with acquiescence, Wildes noted that "while the challenge of immigration has been heightened since 9/11," Jews must be concerned about immigrants and "about the vulnerable." He pointed out that Jewish history is replete with immigration stories, beginning with the biblical tale of the exodus from Egypt.
"Our community must appreciate the great blessings of this country and not turn our backs on others, as people turned their backs on us," he said. "We need to be an example to others and honor the biblical mandate of hachnasat orchim," the mitzvah of hospitality.
The former federal prosecutor noted that the signing of the executive order creating the panel was particularly meaningful for him, taking place at Liberty State Park , close to where his four grandparents first arrived in the United States.
The Jewish Standard
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