A “State House Action To Protect Immigrant Families In Massachusetts” attracted thousands of people to the Massachusetts State House in Boston at noon today to protest the Trump Administration’s policy of splitting up undocumented immigrant families at the U.S. border and placing children alone in prison camps.
“Stop Trump’s child concentration camps,” state Rep. Michelle DuBois of Brockton told the crowd.
“Shame,” protesters chanted. “Education not deportation! Our children!”
The action was part of pressure from across the country that caused Trump to today sign an executive order halting his policy of separating children from their parents when they are imprisoned for crossing the boarder in alleged violation of U.S. law. Though how much this will actually change things is not clear—some reports suggest the order allows indefinite imprisonment of children, which would be a violation of 1997 consent decree, perhaps causing courts to overturn the order.
On the event page for the Boston protest, organizers—including Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Agency ALPHA, Progressive Massachusetts, Essex County Community Organization, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), ACLU Massachusetts and Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston—wrote: “Toddlers are being torn from their mothers’ arms. Children are being put in cages and warehoused at an old Walmart. Asylum-seekers escaping domestic abuse and gang violence are being turned away. And right in our communities, families are being torn apart every day by overzealous immigration enforcement. It’s morally abhorrent. So what is Massachusetts doing to protect immigrant families? The state Senate passed a budget amendment with four basic protections, to stop police from helping round up immigrants and protect civil rights and due process. But the House is doing NOTHING, and Governor Baker has threatened to veto the Senate measure. … If the House won’t listen, we’re going to make ourselves heard!”
“You don’t have to go to the border to see how mothers and fathers have been stripped away from their children. All you have to do is go to Northampton,” said one speaker, referring to Lucio Perez, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who has sought sanctuary from federal immigration authorities in First Church of Amherst since last October. “My name is Eduardo Samaniego and I’m an immigrant as well and an undocumented immigrant too. … People such as myself have to go out there every day fearing that ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] will pick us up. … Imagine what the mothers and fathers feel when their children are taken away from them.”
After the speakers, hundreds of people proceeded into the State House to demand that state legislators do something to stop the Trump administration.