#FreeOurFuture- A Report from Actions on the Border to #AbolishICE
On Monday, July 2nd, JFREJ members joined over 1,000 people from across the country in responding to Mijente’s call to action to #AbolishICE, #ShutDownSessions, and #FreeOurFuture. More than 20 JFREJ members, primarily Jews of Color, Jewish immigrants, Mizrahi Jews, and Jews raised working class, made the trip to San Diego. Our delegation was part of a wider Jewish delegation of over 100 people that included our partners at Bend the Arc, T’ruah, Jewish Voice for Peace, and IfNotNow. We showed up with heart and grit, ready to work and be of service.
Our partner Mijente is a Latinx- and Chicanx-led organization which is pro-Black, pro-woman, pro-queer, pro-indigena, and pro-poor. We support them in their call for full-scale decriminalization of immigration, including abolishing ICE, ending Operation Streamline and enacting non-cooperation policies at the local level to keep ICE out of our cities. The day of action was an opportunity to dream together about what a world where no human being is illegal might look like, and to put our bodies on the line to make that dream real.
The weekend started at El Centro Cultural de la Raza, which was covered in beautiful murals and filled with an energy of community resistance. We were introduced to Mijente’s Principles of Unity which included an emphasis on collective leadership. They encouraged us to pitch in wherever there were gaps to fill, so our members got busy coordinating the music for the march, building puppets, preparing and serving food, getting trained as peacekeepers (marshalls), and so on. We learned chants and songs and listened to personal stories about why so many folks had made the decision to travel across the country in response to Mijente’s call.
JFREJ members at work distributing food.
On Monday, the protest started with a march led by children wearing hummingbird wings who broke through a paper mache wall. Two miles into the march, as we entered the Federal Plaza where Operation Streamline was to start, 10 activists dropped a 4 story banner from the Westin Hotel, reading “Free Our Families Now.” At the same time, people started blocking the entrance ways of the courthouses. The action was successful in postponing the start of Operation Streamline for one week and in energizing participants to continue resisting. We will use this action as a springboard to keep building pressure against the criminalization of immigrants, showing this administration that our communities are ready and able to defend ourselves.
The banner drop from the Westin Hotel.
Here are some of our reflections on the power of our experiences in San Diego:
We talk so often about intersectionality in our movements, but Mijente actually created a space that held all of us, in which each of us could bring all of the parts of ourselves and contribute to the whole…. Joy itself was an act of resistance.
Over and over again, there were stories of people being not only persecuted, but murdered in cold blood for being brown, for being suspected of being foreign-born, for being suspected of being dangerous — vigilante injustice. As we started marching, and the cheers started up, I saw pain joined by determination, hope, and joy. We danced around giant puppets and children donned hummingbird helmets. I felt like I was part of something big and meaningful.
I could be my whole self — proudly the daughter of an immigrant from the Global South, rocking my kurta; unapologetically Jewish with my JFREJ button, backed by all the JFREJers at home, with us in spirit across the continent…. In that moment… it is as close as I have ever felt to the new world that Arundhati Roy reminds us is on her way. In that moment, I could feel her breathing. In that moment, I could hear her sing along to the JFREJ musicians.
Activists block the entrance to federal plaza, successfully delaying the start of Operation Streamline.
While in San Diego I participated in a civil disobedience with about 30 other people to block an entrance to a federal building in support of Mijente’s demands. I was moved to the bone, my heart was exploding with love, and I felt like I could feel my cells splitting to become more resistant and resilient. I know the only way to #FreeOurFuture is to keep following and learning from the leadership of frontline communities of color. Thank you Mijente for your organizing and vision, and for your beautiful leadership that fed us, brought the children to the front, centered directly affected families and lived experience, surrounded us in art and beauty, song, culture and built our skills, our trust,our strength and our community. I see you. I love you. I am here with you.
JFREJ members from New York City at the San Diego protest, looking toward our freed future!