NORTHAMPTON – During visits to Homestead, Florida, where unaccompanied migrant children were being held, and at the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, where detention camps were located, members of a local justice organization on immigration have seen firsthand the effects of the country’s immigration policies. .
As Ken Burns’ Holocaust documentary airs, including details of the United States turning back a ship with over 900 Jewish refugees on board in 1939, Alice Levine, a member of Western Mass Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice , said it was an appropriate time to host a “Keeping Safe” immigration justice event.
“We want to make sure there is justice and safety for everyone fleeing danger,” Levine said. “The focus is on all those who have fled dangerous conditions in their home countries, whether violence, acute hunger or natural disasters.”
The scheduled Jewish holiday event will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Connecticut River Greenway State Park Department of Conservation and Recreation on Damon Road in Northampton at the foot of the Coolidge Bridge. It will be similar to an immigration justice event held in 2019 in the same neighborhood.
Levine said the goal is to protect immigrants locally, at the border and across the country. The effort means confronting the violence faced by people in camps along the border and those on the journey, some of whom died in the desert on their way to the United States.
“We’re a small group, but we see ourselves as a catalyst for these issues,” Levine said.
Activists will use the event to continue focusing on the repeal of Title 42, the US immigration policy that allows asylum seekers to be deported from the country without a hearing due to the pandemic, and will promote of the Yes on 4 campaign in advance. from the November election to preserve state law that gives all residents access to a driver’s license.
Levine said it was appropriate to have the event near Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, moments of self-reflection and a renewal of a commitment to values. The event is sponsored by three of the area’s four synagogues, including Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton, Beit Ahavah in Florence and Temple Israel in Greenfield, and the Amherst Jewish Community Tikkun Olam Committee.
Speakers for the day will be Rabbi Justin David of Congregation B’nai Israel, Rabbi Riqi Kosovske of Beit Ahavah and Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener of Temple Israel. Razvan Sibii, a columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette on immigration and incarceration issues and a professor at the University of Massachusetts, will also speak.
Toby Bobbit, a member of the First Church of Amherst, a United Church of Christ congregation, and Javier Luengo-Garrido, organizing strategist and community advocate for the ACLU of Massachusetts, will also speak, as will Marie Ange Laroche, a Haitian. case manager at Jewish Family Services of Western Massachusetts who helps migrants who have just arrived in Pioneer Valley from Haiti.
Levine said people would comment on their different ties to immigration. Written stories of asylum seekers will also be read aloud and posted on the site.
People of all or no faiths are welcome to participate, although some of the activities are specific to the Jewish faith, including the sounding of the shofar and throwing stones into water à la Tashlich.
Those who participate can park at the site or a short distance away at Sheldon Field. Due to the proximity of the Norwottuck Rail Trail, people can also come by bike or on foot.
The Jewish activist group partners with other organizations including Welcome with Dignity, HIAS and the Detention Watch Network.
Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]
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