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Senator Kennedy: A Hero for Immigrants

  • Blog Post by: Steve Hunegs
  • September 3, 2009 - 2:27 PM

The JCRC mourns the passing of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and wishes to express our deepest sympathy to Senator Kennedy’s family and to his constituents in Massachusetts.

Senator Kennedy embodied the spirit of public service and a commitment to social justice as well as to compromise and bi-partisanship.  His death will leave a void in the Senate that may never be filled.

A senator for nearly 50 years, he was a dedicated voice of civility, compassion and principle.  He remained true to America’s founding ideals as a nation of opportunity and equality for all as exemplified by his work to pass the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which removed historical racial quotas for legal immigration.  This reform permitted the immigration of energetic and entrepreneurial future Americans to better the life and economy of the United States.

Senator Kennedy touched the lives of all Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us.  On issues of war and peace, civil and human rights, education and healthcare, Senator Kennedy was both a tireless advocate and profoundly effective legislator.  The most significant legislation of the past five decades, including the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, equal funding for women’s sports under Title IX, the COBRA Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White Care Act, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the No Child Left Behind Act all bear his name or were passed because of his leadership.

Within the Jewish community, Senator Kennedy will always be remembered as a friend of Israel and a supporter of Middle East peace.  As an advocate for keeping our nation’s borders open and fighting injustices around the world, he was a leading voice of support for Soviet Jewry and personally helped gain the release of Natan Sharansky, a prominent Jewish refusenik and Soviet prisoner who would later become a Deputy Prime Minister of Israel.  We join Senator Kennedy’s family and a grateful nation in celebrating his life and mourning the loss of one of our greatest leaders, but are strengthened by Senator Kennedy's immortal words:  “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

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