Defending Immigrants

Protesting the Muslim Ban, #JewsAgainstICE, Never Again Action, and Let My People Go

Protesting the Muslim Ban

In 2017, JFREJ was among the first NYC-based organizations to answer the call from our friends at Make The Road NY to protest at JFK Airport after the announcement of the Muslim Ban. Our members mobilized alongside thousands of New Yorkers to demand entry into the country for Muslim travelers. We held a Havdallah service at the airport, and protested every subsequent Muslim Ban Executive Order.

JFREJ members and our partners shutting down Terminal 4 at JFK, January 2017

Jews Against ICE

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.

Rapid Response action at LaGuardia Airport in response to news of children separated from their parents being taken through the airport. Organized with United We Dream, Make The Road NY, and the New York Immigration Coalition. June 2018
JFREJ members gather outside holding Free Our Future signs


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.

JFREJ members gather outside Amazon holding a banner that says Never Again
Marching to the Amazon Book Store with Make The Road NY and Never Again Action to shut it down in protest of Amazon's collaboration with ICE. August 2018.

Let My People Go

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.

In spring of 2020, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice and partners, including the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund (now the Envision Freedom Fund) and Never Again Action, 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.

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.