Vanderbilt students help lead anti-ICE protest

Along with Nashville Jewish community and Never Again Action organization, students speak out against nation’s immigration system


Emily Gonçalves

Nashville from the hill of the Tennessee State Capitol building. (Former Hustler Multimedia/Emily Gonçalves)

Rachel Friedman, Editor in Chief

Vanderbilt students, in conjunction with other members of the Nashville community, are planning a protest Aug. 19 to speak out against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the nation’s immigration policies.

The students are collaborating with the organization “Never Again Action” that describes itself as a “nationwide human rights movement led by Jews,” according to the event’s Facebook page. The organization seeks to prevent atrocities as the Jewish people experienced during the Holocaust, the description furthers.

The protest is centered around opposing current U.S. immigration policies, as well as disrupting the actions of the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The institution has been under fire recently for the inadequate conditions at facilities for migrants crossing America’s southern border and for their recent raids, both threatened and executed, in recent months.

Vanderbilt alumni involved with Never Again Action on the national level reached out to the Nashville Jewish community and Vanderbilt students to initiate the planning of the event, student organizer Ruthie Perlman said in an email. This led to the formation of the organizing coalition, which includes students, activists and Jewish professionals, she said. Never Again Action then provided the group with resources to proceed with the event’s creation. Students organizing the protest are led by Max Schulman, who is also the Editorial Director on The Hustler.

Perlman got involved with the protest after learning about an ICE attempt to arrest a man in a Nashville neighborhood, prevented by neighbors.

“Suddenly, our broken immigration system was no longer a national issue, it was a Nashville issue,” Perlman said.

 A criticism of the event has been the use of language related to the Holocaust, as voiced in a guest editorial published by The Hustler. Perlman said that trivializing the Holocaust is not the coalition’s intention, and she understands that the current situation is not equal with the severity of the Holocaust; however, there are parallels between past and present actions.

The event on Monday begins at 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Ewing Drive and Brick Church Pike. “Legal observers and coordinators” will be present to oversee the protest, and there will also likely be a police presence, she said.