Jews: The Organizing and Funding Force Behind Anti-ICE “Actions”
AARON Regunberg is a 29-year-old former Rhode Island state representative. Regunberg is a member of “Never Again Action,” a group founded by Jews to delegitimize border enforcement and harass, disrupt, and if possible abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Regunberg works in the Rhode Island chapter, one of at least 40 that Jews, the nation’s wealthiest ethnic group, have set up across the nation over the past year alone.
Another Jew, 26-year-old Serena Adlerstein, an immigration activist based in Michigan, works along similar lines as Regunberg. She posted a two-sentence Facebook status that spread like wildfire among Jews in her network. What if, Adlerstein posed, Jews would just show up at detention centers and shut them down under the banner of “never again”? Adlerstein had been working with and guiding an ostensibly Mestizo group, Movimiento Cosecha — a so-called “direct action” group whose campaigns have ranged from illegally obtaining driver’s licenses for non-White invaders to protesting and demanding the shutdown of “migrant” detention facilities. She had never seen a similar level of interest around immigration from non-immigrants. The discussion among her fellow Jewish “organizers” quickly centered around whether the conditions at the US border “rose to the level” of the alleged Jewish “holocaust,” of course, and it often focused on whether using this descriptor was accurate or “insulting to the memory of Holocaust victims.” The tone of the replies to Adlerstein’s post ultimately was direct, though, one Jew saying: “F*** yeah let’s do this.” Adlerstein and a handful of other Jewish “organizers” got on the phone that night.
There are hundreds of Jews in these and similar groups, networked together, basically controlling many tens of thousands of non-Whites, and focusing their anger, hostility, and hate for White Americans in the ways the Jews see as “best.”
“It felt clear there was a short but critical window of opportunity to take action,” Adlerstein said. Not to make a “semantic debate of whether or not these detention centers are concentration camps,” but to take action. “We need to close them, and we need to end the entire detention and deportation machine.” Never Again claims that US border enforcement is “how the Holocaust began nearly a century ago.”
The call to dismantle and abolish ICE has been floating in immigrant activism circles for years — but it took Jewish supervision and funding and organization to make it into a major movement.
On June 30, six days after Adlerstein’s post, around 100 people showed up to a protest outside the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, under the banner “Never Again Action.”
In the weeks that followed, it seemed like Jewish activists were shutting down detention centers or ICE-related offices everywhere: Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo, D.C. According to Adlerstein, nearly 700 people had signed up via a Google form in the day and a half after her Facebook post, saying they would like to take action against ICE. That number would continue to grow. People were not only showing up but opening their wallets. For that first protest, organizers set up a GoFundMe to raise $25,000 in bail money for those risking arrest; they ended up raising $180,000. (Part of the money went to Movimiento Cosecha, with whom they organized the D.C. action.) The protests received widespread press coverage, and local hubs started to spring up around the nation
“It felt very clear that Never Again Action had its own role within the immigrant rights movement in this particular moment,” Adlerstein says. “We felt as a group who had activated thousands of people for the first time on the issue of immigration that it was important to actually invest in the fight for the long haul. In order to do that, we needed to provide people with support, organizing skills, and political education.”
Over the fall, Never Again Action developed a formal structure, operating, partly as a religious nonprofit and partly as a social welfare group. This allows the group to do both advocacy and lobbying. The group relies on fundraisers and donations to sustain the organization. Today, Never Again Action — which didn’t even exist a few months ago — has 11 full-time staffers: the national “core team” — who are mostly based in the Northeast.
Having a national organization allows activists to offer support to the local chapters. The core team collaborates with on-the-ground organizers to develop a strategy for each action, helps push out information to press and social media, and shows up in person the day of an action. The actions’ objectives vary from place to place; Oftentimes they engage in direct confrontations, such as literally blocking the entrance to a detention center. In these instances, a “red team” made up of volunteers risks arrest by blocking traffic or building access with sit-downs or by forming human chains. They receive civil disobedience training beforehand, coordinated by Never Again, and the group has a bail fund to get people out of jail if arrests do take place.
Besides the obvious goal of shutting down ICE centers, the actions have other, less obvious, purposes: Attention from the largely sympathetic and largely Jewish-run media means more people joining the movement or supporting it financially. On other occasions, the actions are smaller in scale, such as showing up to support an invader during his check-in with ICE or organizing harassment and verbal attacks right across the street from the house of an individual or individuals who work for or collaborate with ICE.
The Jewish group says its ultimate goal is to wholly dismantle the existing immigration enforcement system. First, however, its chapters are trying to make the group inescapable. A press release boasted in December: “ICE is everywhere. So is Never Again Action.”
Never Again has also set its sights higher than just detention centers — it wants to take down the very systems that fund or anable border enforcement: Several Never Again members were recently arrested outside of UMB Bank, where they were trying to forcibly disrupt business because of the bank’s funding of an ICE facility.
On January 23, Never Again Action protesters joined forces with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Make the Road New York, and New Sanctuary Coalition with another target in mind: Amazon. The multinational technology company has been in activists’ crosshairs because the ICE databases that facilitate the tracking down of undocumented immigrants are hosted by Amazon Web Services. The protest rested on the same idea as the one at the UMB Bank: Immigration enforcement would fall apart without its enablers.
Regunberg explains that what he and other Jews are doing “is to stand up and to throw sand in the gears of this machine however we can.”
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Source: based on a story at Medium