"We stand together... to say no to more weapons for Israel's genocide in Gaza, no more money to imprison children and families seeking safety at our border, no more money to destroy lives," said one protest leader.
Activists from more than 80 advocacy groups took to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to protest what they called the Israeli genocide in Palestine and "cruel" immigration policies here in the United States.
The demonstrators demanded a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, an end to American military aid for Israel, and protection for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"As the Biden administration and Senate Democrats indicate a willingness to advance cruel immigration proposals in order to pass a spending package that will send billions of dollars to Israel to continue its genocide in Gaza, we come together as a coalition of immigrant, Palestinian, and allied organizations dedicated to fighting for justice and liberation to categorically oppose all proposals fueling violence against our communities at home and abroad," a joint statement from the groups taking part in Tuesday's demonstration said.
Arrests were reported after hundreds of activists occupied the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where they sang and chanted slogans including "not in our name" and held signs reading "stop arming Israel" and "protect immigrants and asylees."
"I am here because my government is using my taxpayer dollars to carry out a genocide against people who look just like me in Gaza and to keep immigrant families that look just like mine out of this country," explained Saqib Bhatti, co-executive director of the Action Center on Race and the Economy.
"We are here to stand up for innocent Palestinians, immigrants, and for the vast majority of the American people who are demanding an end to the bloodshed," Bhatti added. "We need a permanent cease-fire today and to begin the hard work of repairing the damage our billions of dollars in military aid has done to the Palestinian people."
Sandra Tamari, executive director of the Adalah Justice Project, said in a statement that "we stand together, linked arm and arm, to say no to more weapons for Israel's genocide in Gaza, no more money to imprison children and families seeking safety at our border, no more money to destroy lives."
"The Democratic leadership and the Biden administration are failing the people," Tamari added.
Audrey Sasson, executive director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, explained that "I am putting my body on the line to demand that Congress stop funding Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and that they reject any proposals for increased militarization on the U.S. border."
"That the war in Gaza is being waged in my name fills me with shame, grief, and rage," Sasson added. "As a Jewish leader watching the Palestinian death toll rise daily, I will not be silent."
The groups' statement decried President Joe Biden's $106 billion "so-called 'national security' supplemental spending package, which would send $14.3 billion in weapons and military funding to Israel to fund its genocidal attacks in Gaza, and nearly $8 billion for deadly enforcement and further militarization of the border."
The activists also noted that "over 8,000 children" are among the nearly 20,000 people killed by Israel's assault on Gaza.
"Palestinians are being killed en masse by the Israeli military and denied access to food, water, shelter, electricity, and medical care in Gaza—a place which has been described as the 'world's largest open-air prison,'" the groups said. "U.S. Border Patrol is holding migrants escaping the conditions created by U.S. imperialism in open-air detention centers at our southern border where they are being deprived food, water, shelter, and medical attention."
The groups' statement continues:
These parallels are not coincidental. We know that our struggle against genocide and militarism in Palestine is the same struggle against militarism here in the U.S. and at our southern border. We see the same technology used by the Israeli military against Palestinians used at our own borders; we see that the Israeli military trains our law enforcement, including [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents; we know that ethnic cleansing and mass displacement will always bring people in need face-to-face with our deadly immigration policies. The decisions to fund these systems are motivated by xenophobia, racism, anti-Blackness, and profit.
"If we allow elected officials to achieve a deal, billions of our taxpayer dollars will fuel war and genocide, and consequently mass displacement abroad, while simultaneously closing the door to asylum and increasing the scale of state violence against our Black, brown, Indigenous, and migrant communities at home," the groups asserted. "We will not allow our communities to be divided and conquered, or to be used as bargaining chips to push through deeply problematic and unpopular military aid."