One of the most grim, publicly heartbreaking developments of the still-young Trump era has been a surge in both the frequency and nature of immigration raids, with ICE agents reportedly descending on schools and courthouses to detain people for deportation. And at a town hall in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, a deeply powerful scene unfolded. Holocaust survivor Bernard Marks challenged Sheriff Scott Jones and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, comparing the current anti-immigrant political climate to what he went through as a child in Nazi Germany.
Marks, 87, is a Sacramento educator who survived the horrors of the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. His statement to Jones and Homan was staunchly moralistic and condemning, equating the anti-immigrant tenor of modern American conservatism with the climate of "picking on people" that preceded the Holocaust.
Marks concluded with a strong, simple statement: "You stand up here, Mr. Jones. Don’t forget. History is not on your side." As he walked away from the microphone, the hall was flooded with cheers and applause. He was entirely correct about the California Supreme Court justice calling on ICE to stop "stalking courthouses." That was Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who addressed her letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly. It read, in part:
Bernard Marks, 90, survivor of Auschwitz & Dachau, confronts ICE director Thomas Homan and Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones at public forum. pic.twitter.com/6u4PeoANis— Gabriel Thompson (@G_Thompson1) March 29, 2017
California ― where the Democrats control both legislative branches and the governor's office― is at the forefront of resistance to the Trump agenda, and that's also true on matters of immigration. Marks' appearance at the town hall, however, provided an emotional punch and viral moment that few can match.