Jews protest Trump's immigration policy: 'This is the time to take action’

Hundreds protest against Trump administration’s immigration policy

July 17, 2019 15:21
4 minute read.
Jews protest Trump's immigration policy: 'This is the time to take action’

People hold signs 'Families against ICE' at immigration protest. (photo credit: OMRI NAHMIAS)

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of protesters, most of them progressive Jews, attended a rally on Tuesday against the policies of the Trump administration’s US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the National Mall in front of Capital Hill, chanting slogans including “Never again is now.”

Some of the protesters held signs reading “Families against ICE,” “Dignity, not detention,” and “Abolish ICE.” following the protest at the National Mall, some activists marched to ICE’s Washington headquarters and blocked the road.

Mark Lieber from Rockville, Maryland told The Jerusalem Post that he joined the protest because of his opposition to the citizenship question in the 2020 census. “I am all for enforcing our laws. But when it becomes torture and inhumane, then that’s going too far. What brought me here was when Trump lost the census battle to add an immigration question and then said that he was going to ask all federal agencies to identify illegal immigrants. That became reminiscent of a police state, which I don’t want our country to have any part of.”

Asked if he agrees with signs calling to “abolish ICE,” he responded, “I’m not sure if I want to abolish ICE, but I certainly want them to change the policy and the behavior completely. And in this political climate, if it means abolishing ICE, then I would say abolish them. ICE existed under Obama and Bush, and we never had anything like this.”

Lindsey Bodner traveled from New York to attend the protest. “I’m an Orthodox woman. I have two small children at home,” she told the Post. “I’ve felt really helpless and angry and ashamed at what’s going on in the detention centers around the border. I was really glad to see this action and wanted to be a part of it, and I was especially glad that it was a Jewish action,” she said.

Asked what in her opinion should be the way to police illegal immigration, she said “We’ve never had that kind of a system. And the majority of people who are in the United States illegally came via airplane and overstayed their visas. We should have an immigration policy that doesn’t keep people in cages. People are dying. Shameful.”

Naomi Hornstein from New York City, one of the “Never Again” activists, told the Post that she decided to attend the protest because of her family history. “My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. And I’m seeing the crisis that is happening right now, both at the border and throughout our whole country: detention facilities, family separation, tears and fear in the immigrant community. And I’m seeing the way that Republicans and Trump are creating a horrifying situation. So this is the time to take action. Especially as a Jew, it feels really important,” she said.

Asked how she thought the administration should address people who cross the border illegally, she said, “I think of my grandparents who didn’t have any options and who were forced to stay in a place that was so, so dangerous for them and where they lost so much of their family. And I urge those people to think about the humanity of the folks who are coming here for a better life.”

Hornstein added that “We need to welcome people with open arms who are fleeing persecution, fleeing violence, and who are trying to create a better life for their families. And I wouldn’t be here today if my grandparents weren’t allowed to come here after the Holocaust.”

Eric Schulmiller traveled from Long Island. “I feel like coming down here today to DC, seeing this youth-led movement of young Jewish Americans and others, inspired me to want to follow their lead to feel American, to feel Jewish, and to know what that means that never again has to mean something,” he told the Post.

“Many of the people who are being held in these camps are seeking legal asylum which is their right to do,” he added. “Many of those who are attempting very dangerous illegal entry points are doing so because the current administration has slowed to a halt the points of entry where they could be coming legally. So many of the people coming here are trying to seek legal asylum. But even if they are participating in what is actually a misdemeanor in terms of crossing illegally, we can’t deny that the images that are in front of our eyes of the way people of all ages are being treated in these camps, whether it’s men, women, young children, some have died in US custody. And it makes me ashamed to see that that’s being done in our name. And it makes me proud to be here today to see that this is what’s being done in the Jewish people’s name.”

Asked about the protesters holding signs “abolish ICE,” Schulmiller said “You have to remember that ICE as an organization is younger than the [2001] movie Shrek. So when you’re talking about abolishing ICE, you’re talking about an organization that has shown that it’s incapable of fulfilling its mission in a way that is in keeping with American values. It doesn’t mean we don’t need security. It doesn’t mean we don’t need border security. But it means that the way in which [it] is being done right now is not fulfilling its mission.”

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