Protecting Immigrants

#JewsAgainstICE, Never Again Action, and Let My People Go

JFREJ has been fighting ICE for as long as the agency has existed. In 2019, we helped our members to launch a new national organization, Never Again Action, as a home for the millions of #JewsAgainstICE who want to make their voices heard in this moment of moral crisis. ICE is deporting our neighbors, separating families, and putting children in cages, but we won't stay silent. Our families have been refugees, arriving on hostile shores; we know concentration camps when we see them; and when we say, "never again," we mean it.

As COVID-19 has swept through incarcerated populations, ICE detention can be even more of a death sentence for undocumented New Yorkers. In our own backyard across the tri-state area, there are 10 concentration camps full of thousands of children, parents, siblings, and friends, caged for their immigration status alone, and facing deportation. The need to #FreeThemAll is more urgent than ever.

In June of 2019, JFREJ helped to hold down the very first Never Again Action shut-down of an ICE immigrant prison in Elizabeth, New Jersey. We coached and supported other actions around the country as the movement caught fire. Here in New York, for Tisha B’Av, we held down the largest action of the summer, and likely the largest action ever to take place against Amazon. Joined by our partners Mijente and Make the Road New York, more than 1,000 members of our extended community descended on Amazon’s Midtown Manhattan bookstore to demand that Amazon Web Services cancel its contracts with Palantir and ICE. ICE uses Amazon and Palantir’s database technology to target immigrants for raids and deportation. Members led a two-hour service in the middle of the Amazon store, reading from Lamentations and sharing the testimonies of immigrants detained in Trump’s concentration camps. Forty-four of us were arrested in protest, including a minyan of 11 rabbis.

JFREJ will continue to be the hub for Never Again Action in New York, organizing #JewsAgainstICE throughout our city until ICE is abolished, and no one is illegal.

Let My People Go

In spring of 2020, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Never Again Action, New Sanctuary Coalition, and the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund took inspiration from the Black Mamas Bailout: We joined forces to launch the Let My People Go campaign to bail people out of jail and immigration detention, and to demand that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio free jailed and detained New Yorkers. By June 30th of that year, with the support of over 60 grassroots fundraisers, 3300 donors, and 20 synagogues and Jewish organizations, the Let My People Go campaign had raised over $370,000 and helped bond out over 50 people from ICE detention across three states.

But our work isn't done — far too many of our neighbors are still incarcerated, without the ability to socially distance or practice even the basic hygiene necessary to protect themselves.

Israel Adeyemi Adeniji worked as a lawyer in Nigeria, where he still has an organization that supports kids without parents to go to school. He was detained by ICE and released on bond after 190 days in 2019 and lives in Staten Island, NY with his family. We were connected through mutual aid networks and collaborated on this video, where Israel shares his experiences in detention and what it has meant to him to be free.