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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ICE Has Gone Rogue As It Continues With Deportations Despite Several Policy Changes

Things That Matter

ICE Has Gone Rogue As It Continues With Deportations Despite Several Policy Changes

Long before taking office, President Biden vowed to undo many of the Trump administration’s most cruel and inhumane immigration policies within days of taking office. But despite several executive orders, Biden’s policies have met several roadblocks and swift changes in immigration policy have yet to arrive.

One major roadblock to ending deportations has been a federal judge that placed a hold on a Biden’s executive order and the other has been a “rogue agency” that’s continued several of Trump’s immigration policies.

Migrant rights advocates are calling ICE a “rogue agency” as it faces new allegations of abuse.

Although President Biden has outlined his immigration policy and installed his new head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – which oversees ICE – the White House still does not have full control of ICE, which faces multiple allegations of human rights abuses and allegations that it has disproportionately targeted Black migrants.

The agency also continues to deport immigrants who don’t fit the categories approved for deportation by DHS – even those who had been taken off deportation flights just hours before.

Many deportees are claiming that ICE has stepped up its torture of detainees.

Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Several migrant rights groups – Freedom for Immigrants, Al Otro Lado and Advocates for Immigrants Rights – published affidavits from Cameroonian asylum seekers who they said were tortured by being forced to approve their own deportations. The asylum seekers described being forced to the floor and having their fingers inked and pressed on to deportation documents they had refused to sign.

According to The Guardian, one Cameroonian asylum seeker described being brought into a room with darkened windows where he was forced by agents to put his fingerprint on a document in lieu of a signature, waiving his rights to further legal process before deportation.

“I tried to stand up because of the force that they were using on me, and they tripped me,” HT said. “I fell on the floor; I kept my hands under my body. I held my hands tight at waist level so they could not have them. Five of the Ice officers and one of the officers in green … joined them. They pressed me down and said that I needed to give them my finger for the fingerprint.”

One man was put on a flight to Haiti even though he’s not Haitian and had never been to that country.

And despite new directives from DHS and the Biden administration, ICE continues to carry out deportation flights containing people who fit none of the current criteria for deportation.

Just last week, Paul Pierrilus, a 40-year-old financial consultant from New York, who had never been to Haiti and is not a Haitian citizen, was taken off a deportation flight at the last moment after the intervention of his local congressman, Mondaire Jones. But just days later, ICE put him on another plane and sent him to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Jones told the Guardian: “Ice is a rogue agency that must be brought to heel. There is no world in which an agency under the control of the leader of the executive branch should continue to deport people after the president of the United States signed an executive order halting deportations for 100 days.”

However, the Biden administration has also moved forward on its own with many deportations.

It’s true that a federal judge ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day pause on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. However, the administration has moved forward on deportations for hundreds of immigrants within the past two weeks.

It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that DHS issued to enforcement agencies.

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These Movies About Jewish Life In Latin America Are Perfect For Hanukkah

Culture

These Movies About Jewish Life In Latin America Are Perfect For Hanukkah

The Jewish experience in Latin America is vast and diverse. Millions of Jewish families, having fled Europe before, during, and after World War II and the Holocaust settled everywhere in the world. Here are some of the movies depicting the various Jewish communities and stories in Latin America.

“Anita”

The Argentine movie tells the story of a Jewish woman with Down Syndrome in the aftermath of the nation’s deadliest terrorist attack to date. The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was attacked by a suicide bomber killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. Anita, the young woman, is left wandering the streets looking for her mother, who was supposed to be at the AMIA at the time of the bombing. Argentina is home to the largest Jewish population in Latin America and the sixth-largest in the world.

“Gaby: A True Story”

The Mexican-American biographical film is about a European refugee family living in Mexico. The daughter, Gaby, was born with cerebral palsy and can only move her left foot, which she uses to type to communicate. Gabriel Brimmer is nurtured and encouraged by her nurse and it leads her to a life of advocacy and writing for the disabled community in Mexico.

“Havana Curveball”

The biography dives deep into the story of one grandfather’s journey to Cuba to escape the Holocaust in Europe. After living in Cuba for two years, he and his family move to the U.S. Decades later, his teenage son wants to do something to help the country that saved his grandfather’s life and he focuses on baseball. The sport is the young boys favorite thing so he sets to donate large amounts of baseball gear to the island but the embargo makes things hard. The rest of the journey plays out on the island as he learns more about the island where his grandfather once lived.

“O Ano Em Que Meus Pais Saíram De Férias” (“The Year My Parents Went On Vacation”)

A young boys mother and father leave him behind as they flee Brazil’s oppressive regime in 1970. During that time, Mauro is taken in by his grandfather and becomes the adopted child of a tight-knit Jewish community in São Paulo. Mauro anxiously waits for his parents to return as the nation gets ready for Brazil’s appearance in the World Cup.

“My Mexican Shivah”

This comedy takes a look at one of the most notable customs of a Jewish funeral: the shivah. As the family sits to observe shiva after the death of the matriarch, secrets of the family are slowly revealed. The movie is a funny look at Mexican and Jewish cultures coming together whole a family grapples with long dormant secrets.

“Nora’s Will” (“Cinco días sin Nora”)

The drama is a look at love and loss after Nora, Jose’s wife, commits suicide just before Passover. The woman’s plan was to bring her family together for the holy celebration but a forgotten photo might derail those plans. Jose finds the photo and it begins a journey to deeper understanding of his wife’s love.

“The Tenth Man”

Ariel, an Argentine man living in New York, is getting ready to visit his father in Buenos Aires. He is looking forward to finally introducing his father to his dancer wife but nothing is going to plan. Ariel and Monica finally arrive in Argentina after being delayed a few days and being unable to find the specific shoes his father requested. Yet, his father is unable to meet up for days as he promises to meet in person soon.

READ: Anti-Semitism Rocked A NYC Subway When A Woman Physically Assaulted A Jewish Woman

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