Members of Utah’s Jewish Community Rally Against Current Immigration Policies

WEST VALLEY CITY — Drawing parallels to their faith’s history, members of Utah’s Jewish community rallied Saturday in front of the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office against the country’s current immigration policies.

“I’m disturbed about what is happening in our country, and these detention camps and their conditions. And by the malice behind the treatment of these people who are essentially refugees, that’s what they are, and we should start recognizing that,” Anne Menzies said.

“This is a problem of our own making,” she said.

The group of about 80 met on the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, which marks the destruction of the first two temples in Jerusalem. During the day seen as the saddest in Judaism, members of the faith fast, pray and mourn.

During the vigil organized by several Jewish organizations — one of more than 50 that were scheduled nationwide this week — the group also joined in several prayers for immigrants and refugees.

On Wednesday, 680 people were detained in Mississippi in what’s being called the largest immigration raid in a decade, the Associated Press reported. More than 300 people were sent home Thursday and expected to appear before immigration judges, the AP said.

Most at the rally carried signs, some saying phrases such as “Never Again,” “Close the Camps,” “Concentration Camps are Evil,” and others drawing connections between the immigration policies and plights faced by many Jewish people throughout history.

“Everyone who visits a detention camp or holding facility tells the same story: people crowded into rooms, cages designed for populations a quarter of their size,” said Eileen Hallet Stone, section president of the National Council of Jewish Women.

“Scarce water and moldy, nonnutritious food. Lack of access to the outdoors and sometimes even the indoors. The inability to call one’s family or contact a lawyer. And that constant fear of what happens next. That constant fear,” Stone said. “Our nation is in a dark place. A narrow place. A place that feels familiar as we observe the day of mourning.”

Child psychologist Dr. Doug Goldsmith said the impacts caused on children held in detention centers, or whose parents are taken to centers, can last a lifetime.

By Ashley Imlay for DESERETNEWS.COM
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