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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