Non-profit

Never Again Action

Website:

www.neveragainaction.com

Formation:

June 24, 2019

Founder:

Serena Adlerstein

Never Again Action is a far-left Jewish group that organizes protests in cities across the United States against enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, casually comparing immigration enforcement officials to Nazis and comparing the detention of illegal immigrants with the Holocaust.

Background

Never Again Action is a liberal Jewish group of mostly young adults that regularly analogizes enforcement of U.S. immigration laws to the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War II and demands that the government shut down U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The group first came to public notice in late June 2019, when Serena Adlerstein, a Michigan volunteer organizer for the immigration advocacy group Movimiento Cosecha,[1] asked on Facebook if any Jews wanted to protest at ICE detention centers. Six days later, 36 people were arrested for blocking the entrance to an ICE detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It marked Never Again Action’s first protest. [2]

The organization raised $180,000 on its GoFundMe page in just more than a week. [3] Because the GoFundMe fundraising exceeded the amount sought, the excess funds were transferred to Movimiento Cosecha. [4]

Notable Protests

The organization has issued multiple press releases starting on July 1, 2019 about large protests in Washington, D.C.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Orange, Calif.; Philadelphia; and Chicago targeting ICE detention centers and other federal buildings. [5]

The organization boasted about a leaked memo from ICE that said an ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C. had to be locked down because of protests in mid-July. “We said we were going to shut down ICE yesterday, and that is exactly what we did,” the press release said. [6]

The organization led a protest of 300 in Chicago and claimed to “shutdown” the Senate offices of U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). [7]

The organization even boasted in a press release that 200 people shut down a “Salute to America Independence Day Parade” in Philadelphia to get their message across. [8]

They also demonstrated outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) congressional office in San Francisco chanting, “Never again is now,” and “Until you close the camps, we will close your building.” [9]

The Never Again Action website says it coming together to “stop business as usual, until the politicians that claim to represent us have no choice but to shut ICE down, close the camps, and stop the roundups and the deportations.” [10]

In July 2019, around 1,000 NAA members protested ICE in Boston by marching from the New England Holocaust Memorial to the Suffolk County House of Correction. [11]

In August 2019, the organization conducted an anti-ICE demonstration for the Jewish remembrance day Tisha b’Av by protesting at an Amazon store in New York for having ties to the immigration agency. [12]

Coronavirus Protests

On March 22, 2020, activists with Never Again Action projected an image of Anne Frank accompanied with the text, “Anne Frank died of an infectious disease in a crowded detention center. Governor Baker, release everyone in ICE detention before it’s too late” onto the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston. Never Again Action Massachusetts spokesperson Elizabeth Weinbloom stated, “She died of a communicable disease in a crowded detention facility. It’s very clear that that’s going to happen to immigrants being held in Massachusetts.” [13]

Never Again Action national campaign director Alyssa Rubin echoed Weinbloom’s remarks, arguing that the state governments’ permission for ICE detention centers to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic might cause inmates to suffer and potentially die of the coronavirus. Rubin called for state governors to use their emergency powers to order the release of immigrant detainees in their states. [14]

A different group of Never Again Action activists projected the same image onto the wall of an immigration court in New York City to call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to use his emergency powers to release detained immigrants from ICE detention centers.

There were also Never Again Action protests against the continued detention of immigrant families in New Jersey and California. They parked outside the Hudson County Detention Center in New Jersey and outside California Governor Gavin Newsom’s home, honking car horns and using bullhorns to demand that these states release detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). [15]

Associations

Movimiento Cosecha, an immigration advocacy group for which Never Again Action leader Serena Adlerstein has volunteered,[16] provided practical advice for Never Again Action such as crowdsourcing skills and blocking access to detention centers during visitation hours. [17]

The group’s website includes the logo for the Action Network. [18] The Action Network is a fundraising platform for a number of liberal organizations, and it touts its partnerships with the AFL-CIO, Daily Kos, United We Dream and the West Fund. [19]

Controversies

Never Again Action’s activism is predicated on an explicit comparison between the enforcement of American immigration laws and the crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany. The group promotes the slogan “Never Again is Now”;[20] “Never again” is a phrase commonly used in Holocaust remembrances. [21] Elaborating on the Holocaust comparisons, the Never Again Action Facebook page said: “Children are being separated from their families at the border and imprisoned in concentration camps.  …The United States government is targeting immigrants in our community like the Nazis targeted the Jews. We were taught to never let anything like the Holocaust happen again, so we are sounding the alarm now. We refuse to wait and see — we know from our own history what happens next. Never again is now.” [22]

The organization backs the comparison made by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who called the ICE detention centers “concentration camps.” The Ocasio-Cortez comment drew rebuke from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other mainstream Jewish groups. But a Never Again Action organizer argued that activists should the strongest language possible to describe ICE. [23]

Comparing contemporary political disputes to the Holocaust is highly controversial; numerous Jewish organizations criticized the Ocasio-Cortez comparison that Never Again Action effectively endorsed. [24]

References

  1. Gordon, Arielle. “Making “Never Again” More Than a Slogan.” Jewish Currents. July 11, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://jewishcurrents.org/making-never-again-more-than-a-slogan/. ^
  2. Reinstein, Julia. “As the U.S. Debates ‘Concentration Camps,’ These Jews Are Trying to Actually Shut Them Down.” BuzzFeed. July 20, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/juliareinstein/jews-against-ice-never-again-immigration-concentration-camp ^
  3. Kesslen, Ben. “’Never Again Means Close the Camps’ Jews Protest ICE Across the Country.” NBC News. July 15, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/never-again-means-close-camps-jews-protest-ice-across-country-n1029386 ^
  4. Ziri, Danielle. “Inside the Jewish Effort to Stop ICE and Trump’s ‘Concentration Camps.’” Haaretz. July 9, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-inside-the-jewish-effort-to-stop-ice-and-trump-s-concentration-camps-1.7481829 ^
  5. Press Releases. Never Again Action. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.neveragainaction.com/press ^
  6. Press Release. “Leaked ICE Email Reveals That Yesterday’s Action ‘Disrupt[ed] Normal Operations’ and Put ICE Headquarters on ‘Lock Down Conditions’” July 17, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.neveragainaction.com/press/for-immediate-release-leaked-ice-email-reveals-that-yesterdays-action-disrupted-normal-operations-and-put-ice-headquarters-on-lock-down-condition ^
  7. Press Release. “Three Hundred Chicago Jews Shut Down Offices of Senators Durbin and Duckworth, Say #NeverAgainIsNow.” Never Again Action. July 9, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.neveragainaction.com/press/three-hundred-chicago-jews-shut-down-offices-of-senators-durbin-and-duckworth-say-neveragainisnow ^
  8. Press Release. “Breaking: Two Hundred Jews Disrupt Philadelphia Salute to American Independence Day Parade, Say ‘Never Again is Now.’ July 9, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.neveragainaction.com/press/breaking-two-hundred-jews-disrupt-philadelphia-salute-to-america-independence-day-parade-say-never-again-is-now ^
  9. Reinstein, Julia. “As the U.S. Debates ‘Concentration Camps,’ These Jews Are Trying to Actually Shut Them Down.” BuzzFeed. July 20, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/juliareinstein/jews-against-ice-never-again-immigration-concentration-camp ^
  10. Never Again Action. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.neveragainaction.com/ ^
  11. Reinstein, Julia. “As The US Debates ‘Concentration Camps,” These Jews Are Trying To Actually Shut Them Down.” BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed News, July 22, 2019. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/juliareinstein/jews-against-ice-never-again-immigration-concentration-camp. ^
  12. ✡️ ✡️ Never Again Action. “Yesterday 1,000 #JewsAgainstICE, Immigrants w/ @MaketheRoadNY, and Allies Took over the Amazon Store in New York.Our Neighbors Are in Danger, Every Day Amazon Sells Technology to ICE and Their Biggest Enabler @PalantirTech. So We Have to Make Them Stop. It’s That Simple. Pic.twitter.com/EDAfPbOlnZ.” Twitter. Twitter, August 12, 2019. https://twitter.com/neveragainactn/status/1160907117290827779. ^
  13. Higgins, Eoin. Because ‘Anne Frank Did Not Die in a Gas Chamber,” Jewish Activists Cite Disease in Nazi Death Camps in Call to Free Detained Immigrants. Common Dreams. 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/24/because-anne-frank-did-not-die-gas-chamber-jewish-activists-cite-disease-nazi-death ^
  14. Higgins , Eoin. Because ‘Anne Frank Did Not Die in a Gas Chamber,” Jewish Activists Cite Disease in Nazi Death Camps in Call to Free Detained Immigrants. Common Dreams. 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/24/because-anne-frank-did-not-die-gas-chamber-jewish-activists-cite-disease-nazi-death ^
  15. Higgins , Eoin. Because ‘Anne Frank Did Not Die in a Gas Chamber,” Jewish Activists Cite Disease in Nazi Death Camps in Call to Free Detained Immigrants. Common Dreams. 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/24/because-anne-frank-did-not-die-gas-chamber-jewish-activists-cite-disease-nazi-death ^
  16. Gordon, Arielle. “Making “Never Again” More Than a Slogan.” Jewish Currents. July 11, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://jewishcurrents.org/making-never-again-more-than-a-slogan/. ^
  17. Kesslen, Ben. “’Never Again Means Close the Camps’ Jews Protest ICE Across the Country.” NBC News. July 15, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/never-again-means-close-camps-jews-protest-ice-across-country-n1029386 ^
  18. Never Again Action. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.neveragainaction.com/ ^
  19. The Action Network. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/ ^
  20. Halaschak, Zachary, and Noah Garfinkel. “Activists Block Doors of ICE Headquarters in DC.” Washington Examiner. July 16, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/activists-block-doors-of-ice-headquarters-in-dc. ^
  21. Philologos. “What Is the Source of the Phrase “Never Again”?” Mosaic. June 21, 2017. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/history-ideas/2017/06/what-is-the-source-of-the-phrase-never-again/. ^
  22. Our Motivation. Never Again Action Facebook Page. June 28, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/pg/NeverAgainAction/about/ ^
  23. Reinstein, Julia. “As the U.S. Debates ‘Concentration Camps,’ These Jews Are Trying to Actually Shut Them Down.” BuzzFeed. July 20, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/juliareinstein/jews-against-ice-never-again-immigration-concentration-camp ^
  24. Dolsten, Josefin. “How Jews Have Reacted to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Concentration Camp Comments.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency. June 25, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://www.jta.org/2019/06/24/politics/how-jews-reacted-to-alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-controversial-concentration-camp-comment. ^
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