Immigration

Activists rally against new ICE facility for caging immigrants in Warwick

Never Again Action RI held the rally to “draw further attention to the construction of this facility, and to reaffirm our commitment to stand in solidarity with the immigrants in our communities against persecution, detention, and deportation.”
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Published on February 21, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Over 50 people rallied on Sunday outside a new I.C.E. facility currently under construction at 443 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick. Organized by Never Again Action RI the rally gathered politicians and members of activist groups including AMOR (Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance) from across the state. The new I.C.E. (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) offices will serve as a base of operations for I.C.E. in Rhode Island and expand I.C.E.’s ability to detain adults and children they deem to be of questionable immigration status. The building, formerly a bank branch, is owned by Cape Moraine, LLC.

Uprise RI broke the story of the new I.C.E. facility back in November of 2021 after a series of permits were submitted to and approved by the City of Warwick. Included among the upgrades to the site is a sally port, a secure, controlled entry way to prison cells and a $710k security and data system.

In December a small group of activists affiliated with Never Again Action spoke before the Warwick City Council about the issue. Speakers called on the City Council to rescind permits, refuse certificates of occupancy, and forbid detention capacity – in other words, to take every possible measure to stop construction of this facility. Instead, the Mayor of Warwick took no action, claiming impotence.

In a press release, Never Again Action RI said they held this rally, “to draw further attention to the construction of this facility, and to reaffirm our commitment to stand in solidarity with the immigrants in our communities against persecution, detention, and deportation.” They also came to condemn Cape Moraine, LLC, the developer who has leased this building to I.C.E., and is building the cells for I.C.E. to hold immigrants.

Drawing from Jewish symbolism and ritual, Never Again Action placed a mezuzah and a hamsa at the site. Dr. Aurit Lazerus, an organizer with Never Again Action RI and a clinical psychologist who specializes in complex trauma, explained that the mezuzah is used to mark Jewish homes in fulfillment of the commandment to “write the words of G-d on the gates and doorposts of your house,” (Deuteronomy 6:9). It also recalls the story of Passover, when the ancient Israelites painted lamb’s blood on their doorways so that the Angel of Death – the last of the Ten Plagues of Egypt – would spare their homes. Traditionally, the mezuzah contains a prayer, the Shemah; the mezuzah left by activists contains a demand to abolish I.C.E. in the state.

Representative David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence):

A song:

Warwick resident Newton Brophy, an organizer with Never Again Action RI.

More songs:

Rabbi Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus:

Another song:

Public school teacher, political candidate and organizer for the Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA), Enrique Sanchez,

Leadership from AMOR:

The hamsa is a traditional talisman for protection from evil. “We place this symbol at this site as a symbol of our commitment to protect our community from the evil which will be done at this site,” said Dr. Lazerus.

Closing words from Rebecca, from Never Again Action:

Never Again Action is a movement of Jews and allies fighting to end America’s cruel immigration policies. As a Jewish-led organization, Never Again Action is informed by our community’s tragic memories of the Holocaust, and by the role immigration policy played in preventing the evacuation of Jews from Europe prior to the Holocaust.

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