January 4, 2018

Proudly Standing With All Immigrants


Assistant Professor of Spanish Karen Spira has co-authored an article with Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel in defense of local immigrant populations. "Proudly Standing with All Immigrants” was published in the News & Record on December 17 and on the national blog ReformJudaism.org on December 13.

Karen Spira

Karen Spira

Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages

Since May, Karen has chaired an Immigration Committee at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, N.C.  In this role, she draws on her academic preparation as a Latin Americanist, her involvement with the Triad's Spanish-speaking community and her scholarship on immigration in order to guide the committee’s work.

Over the summer, Karen drafted a resolution, later approved unanimously by the Temple Board, which articulates the Temple's solidarity with undocumented immigrants in the wake of executive orders on immigration.  The resolution – only the fourth in the Temple's 110-year history and the first to be authored by a lay-leader – calls on local leaders to protect immigrant populations at the same time that it commits the Temple to actively supporting and protecting those under attack.

The article announces to the region and nation that Temple Emanuel has officially taken a stance of solidarity with all immigrants. It denounces recent tendencies to represent DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients as “good” immigrants, while representing their parents and those ineligible for DACA status as “bad.”  The article argues that crossing a border to flee poverty and violence is a brave decision most of us would make, and that it is the welcoming country’s moral responsibility to care for and protect these populations in need.

Karen will continue chairing the Immigration Committee at Temple Emanuel in 2018, with the purpose of enacting the commitments outlined in the resolution. These include educating the congregation about immigration, providing material support and advocacy for local immigrant groups and building friendships with recent immigrants.