A coalition of Jewish and immigrant rights activists from Never Again Action and Movimiento Cosechas took to the streets of Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to demand the federal government “close the camps,” abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and put an end to the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
At least 300 mostly young demonstrators gathered on the National Mall and marched to the ICE headquarters where activists rallied and blocked the entrances to the facility in an effort to literally “shut down” the agency. Along the way, demonstrators shouted chants like “Never again para nadie,” with the latter meaning “for anyone,” and “close the camps.”
The Department of Homeland Security watchdog report released earlier this month warned of “dangerous overcrowding” in multiple detention facilities holding thousands of migrants seeking to remain in the United States. Most of them are fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
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“We’re here to say ‘never again’ means to not just close the camps and abolish ICE, but to put an end to deportation,” Never Again Action organizer and Jewish activist Sophie Ellman-Golan told The Globe Post. “We’re not going to let what happened to us happen to anyone ever again.”
Movimiento Cosechas’ outline their list of demands for immigration policy in their Dignity Plan 2020, which is intended to pressure presidential candidates into adopting the demands into their platforms. The plan includes demands such as immediate legalization for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., family reunification, and ending all deportation and detention. One candidate the group has targeted is former Vice President Joe Biden who oversaw nearly 3 million deportations during his tenure with the Obama Administration.
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“This is a crisis that has been going on for a long time, but that has been unearthed to the American public in the last two years under Trump,” Movimiento Cosechas Organizer Brenda Valladares told The Globe Post.
“We have 11 million undocumented immigrants living without dignity and respect. We’re in a moment where we need big solutions to this problem and Cosechas is bringing that to the table with the Dignity Plan 2020. Just like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, this is our idea for a big solution.”
Demonstrators stood outside ICE headquarters for several hours in temperatures higher than 90 degrees. At the time of this report, at least 15 activists had already been arrested at the scene.