by Symone Saul
More and more people are beginning to stand up and protest the detention of immigrants in ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) facilities across the nation. As cruel and dehumanizing tactics are escalating daily in the concentration camps, citizens are gradually waking up to the genocidal trajectory of our fascist administration. Much of the nation, however, is still in denial or are outward proponents of this blatant for- profit racism.
In order to call attention to these atrocities, many groups are standing up for immigrant rights, particularly those groups that can relate to historical genocide or those with values that force them not to turn a blind eye. They are attempting to mobilize the rest of our citizenry to reflect on their own complicity in this criminal treatment of human beings.
Undocumented immigrants often cannot stand up for themselves or make their voices heard, as they are forced to live in a constant state of fear, isolation and uncertainty. Nonetheless, many immigrant-run organizations, such as Movimiento Cosecha, have bravely taken the lead in organizing direct actions that remain centered on the detainees and their human rights.
One group that Cosecha has worked with is #NeverAgainAction, which has held dozens of protests since June 2019 outside of ICE detention centers across the country, resulting in hundreds of arrests and including the participation of thousands of Jews. Their focus is on forcing American Jews to look at the concentration camps and remember their duty to prevent a recurrence of the Holocaust. A week after a massive #NeverAgainAction in D.C., 71 Catholics were also arrested in the Capitol Building while demanding an end to child detention.
Here in Pittsburgh and over 700 other U.S. cities, a Lights for Liberty Vigil was held on July 12, 2019. Casa San Jose led our local interfaith effort to bring attention to the suffering and abuse in Berks Detention Center and ask Governor Wolf to shut it down. They have plenty of information available on how to get involved in this work and in their many other efforts to protect undocumented immigrants and protest ICE.
We know that this activism works, as Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez tweeted, “Direct actions of profound solidarity, just like these, hold enormous power to change our country.” Many unaffiliated individuals have spent days or months monitoring children’s concentration camps such as Tornillo and Homestead, which have subsequently closed, in part due to their pressuring of the system and exposing the inhumane conditions.
We know that ignoring the situation is what has allowed it to get this bad and if we don’t act soon in massive numbers, we will not overpower the voices of terror, hate, and white nationalism. We are at a turning point in U.S. history and those who don’t show up to end detention have made a choice to profit from it, and that legacy will not be forgotten.
Symone Saul is one of 36 Jews privileged enough to be arrested in the first #NeverAgainAction in Elizabeth, NJ.
Originally published VOL 49 No. 7, September 2019