Public Policy Priorities

We believe that to best guarantee the safety, security, and freedom of American Jews, we must strive for the safety, security, and freedom of all people. An inclusive, fair, and just society is a cornerstone of Jewish communal relations, building upon our faith tradition and values as a Jewish people.

Most of the issues on which we work intersect and overlap with racial justice and equity. All of our work is informed by a racial justice lens. As we address the issues of the day, we keep in mind the needs of the multiracial, multiethnic demographic of our country and our Jewish community.

Our policy priorities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Domestic Issues

Antisemitism and Hate: Antisemitism and hate of all forms have surged in recent years, highlighting the critical need to improve tracking, response to, and prevention of hate crimes, white supremacist violence, and the spread of online hate.

  • Improve hate crime reporting and statistics, promote better data collection and training within local communities, and ensure that federal law enforcement has the tools needed to successfully report—and prosecute—hate crimes.
  • Redouble the federal government’s efforts to counter the spread of online hate and prevent domestic terrorism by white supremacists and other violent extremists.
  • Adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism as non-legally binding guidance for recognizing antisemitic activity or determining whether an alleged act was motivated by antisemitism.

Criminal Justice Reform: End mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people and communities of color.

  • Work to reorient the criminal legal system to reflect a rehabilitative and restorative justice approach to public safety.
  • Invest in noncarceral programs and social services, including education, housing, employment, health care, and other public benefits that make communities safer and more equitable.
  • Support comprehensive, bipartisan sentencing reform that reduces mandatory minimums and applies retroactively; as well as reentry support for essential needs, including by lifting any ban on access to social services and housing.
  • Enact police reform measures, such as those in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would improve practices and policies regarding use of force, police accountability, racial profiling, militarization, data collection, qualified immunity, and training.
  • Place an immediate moratorium on the use of the federal death penalty and support its repeal.
  • Address the COVID-19 emergency in prisons, jails, and detention centers, including through decarceration.
  • Ensure that CDC guidance and future COVID-19 relief includes health and safety protections for both those incarcerated and those working in incarceration facilities, including making them a priority for vaccinations.
  • Rescind the Sessions memorandum on marijuana enforcement and support marijuana decriminalization at the federal level.
  • Provide incentives to states to enact positive reforms at the state and local level.

Immigration: Protect immigrants and immigrant communities and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect for their basic human rights, health and safety, and family unity. Restore and expand our asylum and refugee resettlement systems.

  • Repeal policies and practices that undermine our immigration, asylum, and refugee resettlement systems, including the “zero tolerance” family separation policy, the public charge rule, the Muslim travel ban, and the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
  • Ensure the inclusion of all immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, in any health and economic measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of immigration status.
  • End immigration detention and release all migrants, except for those who pose an immediate and specific public safety threat. Invest in community-based alternatives like case management and legal orientation programs, which are more humane and cost-effective.
  • Make unauthorized entry and reentry into the country a civil offense handled by the immigration system rather than a federal crime.
  • Suspend interior enforcement activities, including raids, interior checkpoints; and for the duration of the pandemic, all deportations, except to address an immediate and specific public safety threat. End enforcement activities at hospitals, clinics, houses of worship, and other sensitive locations, such as food distribution sites and emergency shelters.
  • Support a pathway to citizenship for all Dreamers and lawful permanent resident status for Temporary Protected Status holders and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients, such as in the American Dream and Promise Act. JCPA also supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.

Democracy and Voting Rights: Strengthen our democratic institutions, extend representation, and expand access to the ballot box.

  • Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to update and restore the Voting Rights Act.
  • Expand early voting and vote-by-mail, which proved a resounding success in the 2020 elections.
  • Pass reforms such as those in the For the People Act, which would enact sweeping democracy reforms to prevent voter suppression, help improve elections, advance voting rights (including for formerly incarcerated people), and reform campaign finance and ethics rules.
  • Support D.C. Statehood, which would ensure the same political rights for residents of the District as for those of rest of the country.

Poverty and the Social Safety Net: Provide the necessary assistance to ensure that every person, regardless of income, is able to sustain a basic standard of living.

  • Pass robust COVID-19 relief that focuses first on low-income and vulnerable groups and includes an extension of unemployment benefits and paid sick and family leave for all workers.
  • Increase access to and eligibility for critical social safety net programs, such as SNAP, Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security, including by repealing rules that undermine them.
  • Expand and make permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
  • Support a $15 minimum wage.

Gun Violence Prevention: Enact meaningful measures to address the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in our country.

  • Ensure that all gun purchasers have a background check before each firearm purchase, remove firearms from individuals in crisis whom a court deems a danger to themselves or others, and close the “gun show loophole,” the “Charleston loophole,” and the “boyfriend loophole.”
  • Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban to prohibit the sale of semi-automatics and large capacity magazines.
  • Support the allocation of funding to the CDC and NIH to study gun violence as a public health issue.

International Issues

Israel: Support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and promote efforts to secure a two-state solution for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, where they can peacefully coexist.

  • Fully implement the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which provides $250 million over five years to expand peacebuilding and coexistence efforts between Arabs and Israelis, and encourage international support for this initiative.
  • Continue the diplomatic relationships established under the Abraham Accords over the past few months.
  • Oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and similar efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel.

Environmental and Climate Justice: Take bold action to address international climate change, including rejoining the Paris Accords.

  • Ensure that low-income and minority communities do not suffer the disproportionate burden of climate change both in the U.S. and internationally.
  • Enhance equal access to clean air, water, and green spaces for all.

International Human Rights: Restore U.S. leadership in the provision of international humanitarian aid and the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities.

  • Make genocide determinations regarding ongoing atrocities perpetrated against the Rohingya and Uyghur ethnic minorities, mandate strong economic sanctions in response to the crises, and provide humanitarian assistance.
  • Ensure full funding for peacebuilding and foreign assistance programs, especially those that help secure basic human rights, including access to education, reproductive care, and proper nutrition.
  • End military support and weapons sales for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, restore and expand humanitarian aid to all parts of Yemen, and support United Nations-led peace talks to achieve a ceasefire and power sharing agreement that includes all parts of Yemeni society, especially women.

For more information, please contact Tammy Gilden, Associate Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Communications, at tgilden@thejcpa.org.