On Monday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) was rallying support for the DREAM Act, a measure that seeks to give legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. when they were too young to be liable for breaking the law. During his speech, he compared illegal immigrants living in the U.S. to Jewish people living in Nazi Germany.
“I’m going to tell you right now, I’m one of them people who believes you should give your neighbors sanctuary,” Ellison said in comments reportedly captured by an opposition research group affiliated with the Republican Party. (See video below.)
“If you ask yourself, ‘What would I do if I was a Gentile in 1941 if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis? Would I give them sanctuary?’ — you might be about to find out what you would do,” Ellison said.
Ellison was speaking at the “Beyond DACA” event at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Ellison, the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee was referring to the proposition that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients could be deported if they are given no legal means of remaining in the U.S.
The DACA program, a veiled amnesty program started under former President Obama in 2012, will be ending. Most of those recipients, commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” have lived in the U.S. since they were very young, and consider themselves to be Americans.
Ellison’s argument centered on the idea that most Americans know illegal immigrants residing in the country. Therefore, there is an obligation to stand up for them, against President Donald J. Trump’s tough immigration policies, the way some people stood up for the Jews in Nazi Germany.
In 1933, nearly 522,000 Jews, by religious definition, lived legally in Germany. Between 1933 and 1939, the Nazi’s brought radical change to Germany, both social and economic, impacting the Jewish community through legislation that marginalized them and drove them away from employment, stripping away their rights as legal citizens.
By early 1939, few Jews had employment of any kind, and thousands were interned in concentration camps.
In the early years of World War II in Europe, Jewish emigration to other countries was encouraged amidst continuous discriminatory legislation. Then, in September 1939, as Germany entered the war, the government imposed curfews and prohibitions on Jewish individuals. Reduced rations led to food shortages in Jewish households. German authorities also took Jewish property.
By 1941, Jews were further restricted, and any Jewish citizen over the age of six was made to wear the notorious yellow Jewish Star.
The Jewish persecution by legal means ended in July 1943. An ordinance removed them entirely from the protection of German law; instead, they were under the direct jurisdiction of the Nazi Reich, leading to the devastating “final solution.”
In comparing illegal U.S. immigrants to Germany’s legal Jewish citizens, Ellison is asking people in the communities where they live to stand up for them and using the imagery of the Holocaust to create a movement which feels compelled to protect them.
The inference is that the U.S. immigration policy, based on laws and national sovereignty, is the same as Nazi Germany wishing to be rid of their Jewish citizens due to a racial and religious bias, then taking extreme measures to ensure that.
At the speech, Ellison asks, “Will you pass that moral test, or will you fail it? This is the time for people who truly have faith and belief in their hearts to step up and demonstrate.”
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