Never Forgetting and Always Fighting: Jewish Activists Rise Up Against Locking Away Migrant Kids

“We’ve seen this before.”

Protestors assembled by a majority-Jewish group called Never Again Action make their way to Independence Mall on July 4, 2019, in Philadelphia.Jacqueline Larma/AP

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Never again. That’s the two-word message these young Jewish activists were told growing up. And that’s why they’re working to stop the targeting and imprisonment of migrant kids in US detention camps.

Only a month old, the Never Again Action movement has launched at least seven protests against Immigration and Customs Enforcement nationwide, including this week in Washington, DC.

The organization is growing at a dizzying speed, said Evan Feldberg-Bannatyne, a 21-year-old student at Earlham College in Indiana, who runs a team that handles the group’s sponsorships, budgeting, and reimbursements.

“This is really how I practice my Judaism—through social justice,” he said.

Brandon Mond, 25, said young Jews of conscience have no other choice than to stand up for persecuted people.

“This is authoritarianism—we’ve seen this before,” Mond told BuzzFeed News. “This is a state agency that’s able to just roll around the streets and abduct people at random. My whole life I’ve been told these stories by my community that say that’s a bad sign, so those alarms are going off in my head.” 

Other groups are joining the cause. We reported recently on Japanese American detention camp survivors rallying outside an Oklahoma base that is scheduled to become a child detention camp. On Saturday, Buddhist priests and Native Americans joined them in protest.

Two days earlier, 70 Catholic nuns and parishioners were arrested in Congress in a protest against the detention centers. (BuzzFeed News)

Here are more Recharge stories to get you through the week:

  • The iceman cometh. The white gas station attendant hissed at the Latina customers, saying they should “go back” to the country they came from and that “ICE will come.” The convenience store owner fired the clerk after a video of the exchange went viral and protesters converged on the Naperville, Illinois, gas station. “We do not tolerate any behavior that is insensitive to our valued customers,” the company said. “Bucky’s Convenience Stores is a very diverse and inclusive company that believes in treating all individuals with the utmost respect.” (BuzzFeed News)
  • Individual action. James Neal lives by a motto: One person cannot change the world, but one person can change the life of one person. In 2016, he donated a kidney to save one person. In March, in an operation in Pittsburgh, he donated part of his liver to save a stricken stranger, Margaret Boden, who wanted to see her daughter get married. Thanks to Neal, whose liver regenerated to normal size after three months of recuperation, she did. (CBS News)
  • Books for change. An independent bookstore and social workers have joined forces to get books quickly in the hands of teens in a juvenile detention center in the Bronx. The teens are asking for titles like Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The books are a pathway to serious conversations about teens’ lives—and can lower recidivism rates, says Mary Beth Zeman, author of Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian. “If a bookstore can partner [with a juvenile justice organization], that’s nothing but beneficial,” Zeman says. (The City)
  • “One tiny bee at a time.” How can one person make a difference? For Brenna Maloney, struck by the decline of insect species, the answer is measured in bees. The Washington, DC–area beekeeper encourages others to join her pursuit, which she began on Mother’s Day. “If I’m lucky, my 10,000 bees will become a colony of 60,000 by summer’s end,” she wrote in an essay. “Maybe I can’t change the whole world, but I can take charge of my own backyard.” (Washington Post)

I’ll leave you with this stunning image from Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah via the Interior Department’s Twitter account. Have a great week ahead!

More MotherJones reporting on Recharge


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