by Jeanne Finberg
Four Kehilla members attended a BART Board of Directors meeting on June 22, 2017 to speak in favor of a proposal to protect undocumented immigrants using its services from being reported by BART officials to federal authorities. Lili Shidlovski and Carol Rothman, of Kehilla’s Immigration Committee, represented the only faith-based organization to testify before the board.
The proposal, as originally drafted, was called a Sanctuary rule, but it was renamed “Safe Transit” to address concerns of conservatives concerned about the potential for BART to lose federal funding by using this terminology. The Safe Transit policy passed with all but one board member voting in favor.
By passing the Safe Transit resolution, BART has declared that, regardless of ethnic or national origin, gender, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or immigration status, riders can count on a safe and secure environment on BART. The policy forbids BART from spending any of its resources on immigration enforcement and has directed all of its employees to not provide information about its riders to federal personnel or help with any other aspect of immigration law enforcement. This allows the 500,000 undocumented immigrants in the Bay Area to take BART without fear that they will be identified and detained or deported for doing so.
Kehilla has been a part of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s. At that time, many faith-based groups, including Kehilla, took action to protect people fleeing violence and torture in Central America. Recently, as a response to current federal anti-immigrant policies, Kehilla renewed its commitment to Sanctuary. At the BART hearing, Carol Rothman described Kehilla’s Sanctuary resolution, which says that “as people of faith and people of conscience, we pledge to resist the newly elected administration’s policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. We will open up our congregations and communities as sanctuary spaces for those targeted by hate, and work alongside our friends, families and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people.”
Lili Shidlovski spoke about a specific immigrant family that is here seeking asylum, putting a face on the need for the BART Safe Transit policy. Lili described the family’s need to take BART to get to appointments, school and errands, and how their fears of being identified and deported by BART police have had damaging effects on both the parents and their children. Lili, like many other Kehilla members, has been active in assisting immigrant families.
Please contact Kehilla’s Immigration Committee at mailto:ImmigrationCommitteeChairs@kehillasynagogue.org if you are interested in learning more about how to get involved in immigration-related actions or how you can support newly arrived immigrants.