July 26 (UPI) -- Thousands of Jewish clergy signed a letter to Congress calling for lawmakers to protect "the fundamental right to seek asylum in the United States."
The letter addresses the hardships that asylum seekers, mostly from Central America, face, including family separation, long periods of detention in jail-like facilities and denial of due process in their legal proceedings. It also draws parallels to Jewish history.
"The Jewish people know what it means to be turned away and to be denied protection," the letter reads. "As Jews we understand the heart of the refugee, and the current actions of our government echo some of the darkest moments of our own history. The right to flee one's country and seek safety in another is protected under both U.S. and international law. For those requesting asylum in the U.S. to be denied a fair process could mean a return to situations most of us cannot imagine in some of the most violent countries in the world."
The letter said the refugees shouldn't be treated as criminals.
"We are alarmed by the rising prominence of ideologies that dehumanize and vilify immigrants and refugees alongside Jews, Muslin and so many others," the letter said. "We are committed to fighting hate and standing for our American and Jewish values of protecting the persecuted and welcoming the stranger, irrespective of nationality, race or religion."
The letter takes issue with the Trump administration's immigration policies, including his effort to restrict a migrants' ability to apply for asylum in the United States. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking that rule Wednesday.