Things That Matter

A Week After AOC Compared Detention Centers To Concentration Camps, Jewish Activists Arrested For Protesting ICE

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Migrant detention centers have been in the news a lot lately for the inhumane and downright dangerous conditions that migrants are facing inside of them.

From reports of expired food, drinking from toilets, frigid temperatures, solitary confinement – the conditions inside these detention centers are deplorable.

But recently, it seems that there’s been even more news coverage of politicians and activists who are calling out the migrant centers for what they really are: 21st Century concentration camps.

Thirty-six Jewish activists were arrested Sunday as they protested, along with hundreds of others, in front of an ICE immigrant prison in New Jersey.

Credit: @TeenVogue

Some 36 Jewish protesters were arrested on Sunday outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in New Jersey as they were protesting the conditions under which undocumented immigrants are being held inside. 

More than a 100 gathered outside the facility under the slogan “Never Again,” calling to abolish ICE and for the closure of migrant detention facilities, which they deemed “concentration camps,” a term that has sparked much controversy after Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used it last week to describe the centers.

The crowd chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, racist ICE has got to go” and held signs reading “Never again means close the camps.”

The crowd chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, racist ICE has got to go” and held signs reading “Never again means close the camps” and displaying the group’s name, according to video of the event on Twitter.

“As Jews, we cannot sit and watch as ICE terrorizes immigrant families, separating children from their parents and detaining them in deplorable conditions,” read a Facebook post by Never Again Action. “As Jews, we know that #NeverAgainIsNow.”

The group’s name comes from the slogan “Never again,” which has historically been used in relation to Holocaust commemoration. Jewish groups on the left have compared ICE’s treatment of undocumented immigrants to abuses under the Nazis and other totalitarian regimes, while other Jewish groups have said that comparisons of ICE to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust are inappropriate.

Donations have poured in for the Jewish group to help with legal costs associated with the arrests.

Credit: @LexieB2

The protest group, who worked alongside fellow immigrant rights organization Movimiento Cosecha, originally sought $36,000 in funds so they could organize nationwide protests against ICE and to “remind the world that Never Again means Never Again for Anyone.”

Posting an update on their GoFundMe page, Never Again Action said they are continuing to seek donations in order to help cover the legal costs for those arrested at the New Jersey protest and for further action materials.

“A group of young Jews, Rabbis, and people from all over the country disrupted business as usual at the for-profit, privately owned Elizabeth Contract Detention Center in New Jersey. Now we need yours and our community’s support for their legal fees,” the group wrote.

AOC tweeted in support of the protesters, saying that these actions ‘hold enormous power to change our country.’

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in support of the protesters, writing that such actions “hold enormous power to change our country.”

Brad Lander, a Democratic Jewish New York City councilman, also attended the protest.

While this Jewish Latina also came out in full support of the protesters.

Credit: @gabebergado / Twitter

“Elected officials are spending more time arguing over the language used to describe these conditions than addressing the crisis itself,” the group said in a press release before the protest.

“They claim to speak for us Jews, but they don’t. We refuse to allow politicians to use our trauma as a distraction from the mass atrocities being perpetrated by ICE and CBP at the border and across the country,” they added.

And many Jews took to Twitter to defend the comparison between Trump’s migrant prisons and Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.

Credit: @rach_small / Twitter

Conditions in immigrant detention centers across the country have made headlines lately as images of children sleeping on concrete floors with aluminum blanket have caused a national uproar. 

A report released last week by the office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security showed that ICE’s detention conditions are “unsafe and unhealthy” with expired food, segregation practices, failure to provide recreation outside detainee housing units, and moldy bathrooms.

In addition, the report noted that some detainees do not receive “appropriate clothing and hygiene items to ensure they could properly care for themselves.”

READ: Historians And AOC Agree That Detention Centers Look Like Concentration Camps But Conservatives Don’t Want To Hear It

The Homestead Detention Center Just Transferred Out All Migrants Kids But May Welcome New Ones As Soon As October

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The Homestead Detention Center Just Transferred Out All Migrants Kids But May Welcome New Ones As Soon As October

V Kilpatrick / Pinterest

You’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe the Trump administration was reconsidering the way it was treating migrant children who are crossing the boarder. Especially since earlier this month, we’d reported that the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Miami, Florida, was to close. However, it looks like Homestead is set to reopen again – as soon as this October.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Pinterest / Jordan Malone

The beginning of the month saw the last of the children, who were detained at the facility, removed. While it’s difficult to say exactly how many children were originally housed at the detention center due to the overcrowding that’s taken place across holding facilities nationwide, it’s thought that there were between 2700 to 3000 children staying at Homestead. Part of the reason why Caliburn International, the company that runs Homestead, was instructed to reduce its detainees in the first place was due to government compliance issues. That is, the government had introduced new standards in preparation for hurricane season.

We still don’t know where the previous group of children went after leaving Homestead.

Pinterest / Chance Vintage

Even though the children were removed, it’s not clear what happened to the children once they’d left Homestead. The fact Caliburn International is a for-profit company and still required staff to show up for work, despite there being no detainees, has also clouded the issue. At the time of writing, reports say that while 1,700 employees had been dismissed due to the center officially closing, more than 2,500 kept their jobs. It’s not clear what they’re doing at Homestead while they await new inmates.

And because Homestead is an influx center, it doesn’t require a state license. 

Twitter / @marwilliamson

Typically speaking, influx centers are essentially designed to house a large number of inmates, in case the government suddenly finds itself inundated by asylum seekers. These centers are only intended for short stays, which is why they can legally hold a larger number of detainees. Otherwise, Homestead’s population would be capped at 500 children. And while we’re on the subject of numbers – temporary facilities like Homestead are actually more expensive, in the long run. They cost the government around $775 a day per child, while permanent shelters run at about $250 per day per child. Nice to know everyone’s tax dollars are being spent wisely.

Is this all starting to should kinda familiar to you? Yea, us too.

Pinterest / PolitcusUSA

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, it should. The US government recently argued in federal court that it shouldn’t have to provide things like toothbrushes and soap to detainees, since they were only being temporarily housed in the facility in Clint, Texas. Spoiler alert: the judges didn’t buy that argument, since inmates are being held for months at a time at these facilities. Again, these places that don’t provide basic necessities for inmates are more expensive to run than a more permanent facilities. 

But, we digress.

Pinterest / Chance Vintage

Oddly enough, even though Homestead is set to open again in October, Caliburn’s contract expires November 30. At this stage, it’s unclear whether the company will see the contract renewed, or whether a new contract will be opened up to competitive bidding. Apparently the original contract with Caliburn was awarded without competition, which was done so around the same time John Kelly, Trump’s ex-chief of staff, joined the company’s board of advisers. Bueno.

All of this shows that it’s still business as usual.

Pinterest / V kilpatrick

At the same time, even if the contract for Homestead was open to competitive bidding, it’s unlikely that much would change at the facility for the children who will be staying there. Companies and non-profits that promote asylum seeker’s rights and would likely provide safe and comfortable facilities have little interest in bidding for such contracts, since the very policies motivating them are diametrically opposed to the espoused values of these organizations. 

At the end of the day, this is all semantics. Because while it’s definitely important that we examine the ways that we detain migrants, and ensure that everyone receives due process, we’re not asking the most important question of all: should we even be detaining children for seeking asylum?

Activists Are Warning That The Guard Running His Truck Through Protesters Is Not Going To Be The Last

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Activists Are Warning That The Guard Running His Truck Through Protesters Is Not Going To Be The Last

People across the U.S. are stunned by a viral Twitter video showing a contract Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guard driving his pick-up truck through a crowd of protesters. The protesters, part of the Jewish activist organization Never Again Action, posted videos of the assault on Twitter and it has sparked outrage at the actions of law enforcement at the scene. Here’s what happened.

Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave following the incident, according to authorities.

Credit: @theplaceilove / Twitter

“The incident which occurred last night is currently being investigated by the Rhode Island State Police,” a statement to the Boston Globe read. “Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility Warden Daniel Martin is also conducting a top to bottom review of the incident, Wyatt correctional officers’ response, and the Wyatt’s protocols regarding protest activities outside of the facility. Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the independent investigation being conducted by the Rhode Island State Police, and the Wyatt’s internal investigation.”

People are spreading his information as far and wide as they can to shame him for his actions.

Credit: @AntiFlashGordon / Twitter

The video has been shared all over social media and people have reacted with shock and anger. Other activists are pointing out that the use of a car to ram protesters is becoming a more common thought and occurrence than in recent history.

Others are using the video as a moment to question what exactly is happening inside the detention centers they are protesting.

Credit: @nat_lern / Twitter

People have been trying to get people’s attention to the humanitarian crisis in the detention centers. There is a real concern that if guards can run their car through a group of lawful protesters, what are they doing to migrants in detention?

Activists captured video of an ICE guard using his pick-up truck to break through a group of protesters in Rhode Island.

Credit: @NeverAgainActn / Twitter

Protesters were stationed outside of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island. During the protest, a pick-up truck drives up the protesters and honks the horn before driving through the crowd of protesters. However, the truck was not the only time the protesters were assaulted during the protest.

During the incident, law enforcement at the scene used pepper spray on the protesters to break up the crowd.

Credit: @NeverAgainActn / Twitter

“We will not be deterred by the violence that was taken against us last night,” a spokesperson for Never Again Action told NBC News. “People are being harmed in ICE custody every day. This is exactly why we are doing what we’re doing.”

People are horrified at the blatant attack on peaceful protesters.

Credit: @mcastimovies / Twitter

The video is a chilling reminder of the violence we have seen against protesters in recent times. Two years ago, the world watched in shock as a white supremacist ran his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia during the Unite the Right rally. The attack claimed one life, Heather Heyer, in the name of hate. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured during the incident on Wednesday night.

Five people were hospitalized after the guard ran over protesters.

Two people were hospitalized because of the truck driving into the crowd and three people were hospitalized for the pepper spray. The whole incident has not deterred the organization from standing against ICE and its detention practices.

READ: More Than 100 Protesters Were Arrested In New York City For Blocking One Of The Busiest Streets In The City

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