Things That Matter

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

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

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Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

Things That Matter

Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

For years now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been enforcing cruel and, in many opinions, illegal immigration policies that have affected the most vulnerable among us. And they’ve been doing it without a permanent leader who can be held accountable.

The Trump administration relied on interim leaders and deputy secretaries to head the sprawling and powerful agency. Now, President Biden has nominated a frequent outspoken Trump critic to lead the agency and many are hopeful there could be real change.

The White House has nominated Texas sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead ICE.

President Joe Biden has nominated a Texas sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, to lead ICE. Gonzalez has been the sheriff of Harris County (parts of Houston, TX) since 2017, leading the state’s largest sheriffs department. He has led a team of 5,000 employees in the position and previously served 18 years with the Houston Police Department, rising to the rank of sergeant, according to his profile on his office’s website.

Gonzalez has also been a vocal critic of elements of former President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement policies.

Gonzalez is the second such critic to be selected by Biden for a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security, following the nomination two weeks ago of Tucson, AZ., Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Gonzalez has long been a voice of reason within law enforcement leading many to be hopeful for change.

During his first term as sheriff Gonzalez ended a program with ICE that trained 10 Harris County deputies to determine the immigration status of prisoners, and hold for deportation those in the country illegally.

As sheriff he also opposed Texas legislation requiring local law enforcement to determine individuals’ immigration status, according to The Texas Tribune. The legislation was viewed as targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.” Gonzalez, like many in law enforcement, said the approach would destroy trust and make their job protecting communities more difficult.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Biden’s pick in a statement Tuesday.

“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a strong choice for ICE Director,” Mayorkas said. “With a distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Sheriff Gonzalez is well-suited to lead ICE as the agency advances our public safety and homeland security mission. I hope the Senate will swiftly confirm Sheriff Gonzalez to this critical position.”

ICE has long been missing a permanent director to lead the agency.

Gonzales would succeed Tae Johnson, who has been serving as acting ICE director since Jan. 13. He previously served as the agency’s deputy director.

ICE has not had a permanent director since 2017. The agency operated with five acting directors under the Trump administration. This comes as the Biden administration has faced challenges at the border, including a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S.

The announcement of Gonzalez’s nomination comes on the heels of another major announcement from DHS. Mayorkas also announced Tuesday that he has directed ICE and Customs and Border Protection to place new limits on civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses.

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Tate’s Cookies Threatened to Report Undocumented Workers to ICE If They Unionized

Culture

Tate’s Cookies Threatened to Report Undocumented Workers to ICE If They Unionized

Photo via chocolleto/Instagram

Fans of the crispy, buttery Tate’s cookies might be sad when they hear this news. According to current employees, the popular cookie business has been threatening employees who are trying to unionize.

According to multiple employees, Tate’s cookies threatened to contact ICE if workers vote to unionize next month.

According to Gothamist, most of Tate Bake Shop’s 432 employees are undocumented workers. But the National Labor Relations Act says that undocumented workers have a lawful right to unionize.

The powerhouse baked goods company Mondelēz International owns Tate’s cookies. Additionally, Mondelēz owns other popular brands like Oreo and Chips Ahoy. Local union leaders have called the company “anti-union on steroids”.

Once Tate’s cookies heard rumblings of their workers unionizing, however, they hired an anti-labor consultant. The consultant, Carlos Flores, brags on LinkedIn about keeping businesses “labor free”.

“They began threatening people based on their immigration status, telling them that if their documents are not in order and they attempted to join the labor union they would get deported,” said Eastern States’ Union president, Cosmo Lubrano.

The consultant allegedly told workers that he would review their documentation to see if “everything was in order”. If it wasn’t, he said ICE might “send them back”.

“Just because a worker wants to organize, wants to have representation doesn’t mean a company should make their life miserable,” said Julio, an undocumented worker, to The New York Times.

Tate’s cookies employees only began to discuss the possibility of unionizing when the pandemic hit. Workers felt that the cookie company might not protect them should they fall ill.

“We were in the heart of the pandemic at that time and they didn’t know any of the rules that applied to them,” said Anthony Miranti, an Eastern States’ union delegate.

“Will they get paid if they have to self-quarantine? How do they get safety equipment? They were telling us about how they’re all at minimum wage and needed more paid time off and there was just nobody to listen to their problems.”

Officially, Mondelēz denies all claims or threatening workers. They released a statement saying: “Any allegation that the company has violated any aspect of the National Labor Relations Act is untrue. Tate’s prides itself on treating all its employees with respect, and we have fostered over many years an inclusive, supportive, caring work environment and culture with our employees.”

Despite the threats to their livelihood, many workers still believe unionizing will ultimately be beneficial.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who work in union shops. They say things are better,” said an undocumented worker by the name of Catalina to the New York Times. “Why not give this an opportunity?”

As Miranti says, “I think the workers that produce these products should be able to put their heads down on their pillows at night and know their job is secured, that their family has the best coverage out there, that they’ll have a pension to retire on someday.”

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