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Refugee Support Project

The Refugee Support Project is an interfaith community group based at Temple Israel which is working to help refugees in Syria as well as immigrants locally.

Donation checks can be made out to Temple Israel, with Refugee Support Project in the memo line, and mailed to 27 Pierce Street, Greenfield, MA 01301.

For more info: Ellen Kaufmann, 413-625-9708, [email protected].

The RSP is currently supporting the work of Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice. Please read their letter below.

The code of Jewish law, Shulchan Aruch, says; "Every moment that one delays in freeing captives, in cases where it is possible to expedite their freedom, is considered to be tantamount to murder."

Dear Community,

Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice of Western Mass (JAIJ) is calling on all members of our communities to do everything possible to help get people out of ICE detention in the Bristol County jail in North Dartmouth, MA, before COVID-19 spreads throughout the facility. Due to a recent and somewhat successful class action court case in MA, some detainees from Bristol have been released, but there are many more inside who are feeling desperate; when the court case was decided, their hopes were raised, but in recent weeks, so few additional people have been released, that those remaining in Bristol (about 100 at last count) are fearing that they will die in ICE detention.

As we all know, social distancing and careful hygiene are the only things that help stop the spread of the virus. Clearly those in ICE custody (Bristol detainees live 50 to a room, eat together, and sleep 3 feet apart) are not able to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The vast majority of people in ICE detention have committed no crime. They have been taken away from their families and locked up only because they weren't able to get the necessary documents to enter this country when they fled from violence and life-threatening poverty in their home countries. Those inside, many of whom have participated recently in hunger strikes and other protests, are asking for community support to turn the minds of those who can release them, so that they don't die in ICE detention.

There are details below about two things you can do:

1. Call on elected leaders and other officials to demand immediate humanitarian release of detained migrants, using their positions to pressure the ICE and Bristol County jail officials, who have the power to release the migrants. Speak out to get them out!!

BELOW IS A SAMPLE LETTER AND CONTACT LIST FOR IMPORTANT OFFICIALS. YOU CAN EASILY CUT, PASTE, SIGN AND SEND IN ONE EMAIL TO ALL THE OFFICIALS:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SOW15gg74cGbIeD8p8DkBpbfnfuakEYk/view?usp=sharing

CONTACT THE OFFICIALS LISTED and urge them to do everything in their power to call for the immediate humanitarian release of all migrants held in dangerous COVID-19 conditions in Bristol County Jail and elsewhere in our state.

Also ask if they will:

  • Investigate the conditions at the Bristol County ICE detention facility;

  • Make public statements about the danger of the COVID-19 virus for detainees, staff, their families, and the surrounding community;

  • Ensure that detainees in Bristol County are released on a rolling basis (50 cases to be considered per week), as ordered by U.S. District Court Judge William Young.

  • Use their influence to exert pressure on those who have the power to release the detained migrants, specifically Sheriff Hodgson of Bristol County Jail and Todd Lyons, Regional Director of ICE.

  • Use their power to seek a strong public statement from Governor Baker to say, "We won't stand by and watch people die. Not in our state."

2. Donate to the bond fund below as another way of making it possible for those in ICE detention to be released. Consider sharing all or part of your stimulus checks, if you are able.

Bond for those in ICE detention is being organized and paid for by BIJAN, Boston-area Immigrant Justice and Accompaniment Network. The fiscal sponsor for BIJAN is the Episcopal City Mission, a 501c3 organization.

Here are 2 ways you can donate to this fund:

  • Donate online at www.episcopalcitymission.org/donate . Select "Beyond Bond & Legal Defense Fund" when asked about donation type. Gifts are tax deductible.

  • Write checks to Episcopal City Mission with "Beyond Bond Fund" in the memo line and mail them to: Episcopal City Mission, 138 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111

The situation for detainees changes rapidly. For updates, check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JAIJWM/ or join our mailing list by writing to us at: [email protected]

Thank you,
Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice