To Demand an end to Deportations, Massachusetts Immigrants and Allies March the Freedom Trail in Prison Gear
June 28, 2014 BOSTON — Today, one year after Congress last took action on immigration reform, members of the New England Coalition for Keeping Families Together marched the Freedom Trail today wearing orange t-shirts with their hands bound. Those marching included families who had lost their fathers to deportation, like the Chaudhrys; activists who see the pain and fear in local immigrant communities, like Carlos and Merida Arredondo; and members of community agencies, immigrant rights organizations, unions, and faith-based organizations.
The day opened with a prayer offered by Father Michael Harrington, of the Boston Catholic Archdiocese, who passed out rosaries to the marchers. Participants wearing signs that together read #stopdeportations then marched to the gates of the State House, to Faneuil Hall, and finally to the Rose Kennedy Greenway installation known asThe Fence.
The march graphically symbolized the loss of freedom experienced by 1,1000 men, women and children deported by the Obama administration every day. One of 30 events across the nation on this June 28 Day of Action to Stop Separating Families, the event marked a public turn away from an ineffective Congress, and toward President Obama, who can use his executive authority to stop deportations, toward voters, who can change the makeup of Congress in November, and toward State House representatives, who can take local actions to alleviate suffering among immigrants in Massachusetts.
"Congress did not act, so we must act to change Congress with our vote, and to move President Obama to take executive action to stop these deportations," said Lucy Pineda, Executive Director of LUMA. "We also call on legislators to support the Massachusetts Trust Act, so that local law enforcement will no longer aid in the detention and deportation of hard-working immigrants who are innocent of any criminal charge."
"My husband was held in detention for four years before being sent back to Pakistan, the country he hadn't known since he was a child," said Michelle Chaudhry, who marched with her three young children. "He was treated worse than many violent offenders are, and I am here to let people know that the the love of my life and father of our children did not deserve this fate, nor do the hundreds of others deported every day."
"We are coming together to show our unity and continued determination to make change" said Maria Lorena, member of Revere Immigrants Support for Education (RISE). "This is a matter of protecting families, whose terrible situtations can be seen in the crisis on the border with unaccompanied children migrants. They are fleeing terrible poverty and violence, and we have a moral responsibility to protect their safety, as well as the safety of the millions of undocumented immigrants who have raised families and contributed to their communities in the U.S. for years."
"We're marching for freedom for our parents, freedom for DREAMers, to stop innocent people being detained and deported," said Cristina Aguilera, Organizing Director of the MIRA Coalition. "Our bound hands remind those who see us of the plight faced daily by their neighbors, by their church members, by the people who serve them food or clean their houses. We ask President Obama to use his existing authority to address both the humanitarian crisis of the current migrant children situation, as well as the domestic, moral crisis that is keeping 11 million aspiring Americans in the shadows.
"We also ask voters to remember where their elected representatives stand on this moral crisis," Aguilera continued. "Not only their representatives in Washington, but in the State House, too, where the Safe Driving Bill was just sent to study, and the Trust Act could limit the impact of Secure Communities. That's why so many of us here will follow this day with months of voter registration and engagement. Today, we start a new chapter for change."