By Sandra De Anda, Guest Columnist
Never let anyone say that nobody bothered to protest in this era of injustice against immigrants. In past few weeks alone, there’s been inspiring actions everywhere such as when the Japanese American community held a rally in Little Tokyo to denounce the government’s potential use of Fort Sill where many of the speakers were interned during the Second World War. Another action in Bakersfield organized by Mesa Verde Liberation Front and California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), of which many OC activists were present for, demanded the release of Jose Bello, an activist detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shortly after reciting a poem critical of immigration policy.
Closer to home, Jewish activists with a group called Never Again protested outside Theo Lacy facility in Orange right before Independence Day.
“Never Again became a movement, in and of itself, in response to how the right-wing was co-opting narratives about the Holocaust and creating divisiveness to excuse the existence of detention centers,” says Sophie Reiff, a Never Again Movement member present at the protest. “As Jews we felt a responsibility to stand with these communities because detention centers are concentration camps. The crisis is not new. Others have been fighting against deportations and we are simply here to accompany, show solidarity, and provide resources.”
The Never Again Movement began on June 24 as an offhand comment posted on Facebook by Serena Adlerstein, a member of Movimiento Cosecha, about organizing young Jews to protest detention centers. The comment didn’t go unnoticed by networks of Jewish organizers and within a week Jews all over the United States showed up to protest at detention centers in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and in Orange.
Around 30 protesters came out to Theo Lacy last week, including immigration rights activists and rabbis, to denounce the facility and its practices. They chanted “Never Again is Now” while many stood together with interlocked arms in front of the entrance doors so as to block detainees from being taken in.
During the action, protesters highlighted that the end of the bed-sharing contract between the Orange County’s Sheriff Department and ICE could lead to dire consequences for those detained within Theo Lacy. In late June, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California thankfully won a preliminary injunctions preventing ICE from shipping Theo Lacy immigrant detainees with legal representation to far off detention centers.
But the fight is far from over.
With that in mind, as activists continue protesting, organizing, writing, and staying informed about these detention centers, everyone should also consider donating to the Orange County Justice Fund. Helping detainees pay for their bail will lessen the risk of deportation in the hopes of freeing them all.
“Never Again” is now.