Advocates, workers, and faith leaders from across New England have gathered today in Boston to rally against the rising number of deportations across the country.
On April 5th, a national day of action was held to pressure President Obama to scale back his aggressive deportation agenda. It’s expected that by the end of April, 2 million deportations will have occurred during his administration due to the expansion of the Secure Communities initiative. Advocates want the president to use his executive powers to curb or stop those actions. In Boston, the Not One More Deportation rally, part of a Holy Week national day of action, aims to continue pressuring the White House.
Migrant Justice Vermont Organizer Natalia Fajardo says deportations affect every corner of the country including workers here. “In Vermont we have many dairy workers who suffer deportation pretty much every day. And the consequences of it is the separation of families and disruption of communities. The reason why we are working on deportations right now is that President Obama has the power to stop them regardless of what happens with immigration reform.”
The rally is occurring in front of the Suffolk County detention center in Boston. Natalia Fajardo is attending with a number of Vermont advocates and immigrant workers. It’s a place she says symbolizes the tragedy of deportation. “Many people who are detained throughout New England are taken to Suffolk County jail and held. There’s people who have been there for 10-15 years. Detainees have staged hunger strikes in the past. Vigils have been outside almost on a monthly basis. There’s also other parts of the immigration and detention machine that are in Boston. So I think it is really representative of the suffering that our communities are having and also of what change could bring.”
In Springfield, Massachusetts, Just Communities Organizer Bliss Requa-Trautz notes that the commonwealth has the eighth largest immigrant population in the country and serious deportation issues. "The folks who are being targeted and deported are not criminals. We’re looking at folks who have stayed in Massachusetts for ten years or more. Who have established homes and families here. Whose children were born and have been raised here. It’s really a family issue that has a large community impact."
Able Garcia is a worker on a Vermont dairy farm. He relates how a friend who had been working alongside him for six years found another job in New York and when he rode to his new job, the car he was in was stopped. Border Patrol was called. His friend was held for a month and deported. Garcia says his friend had no record and was a legal worker. Natalia Fajardo translates. "It certainly worries me. I have siblings here. My father is here. We support each other and keep each other company. And so thinking that one of us will be missing someday definitely worries me. And so when I learned that President Obama has deported almost two million people, I decided we had to do something about it. That’s why I’m going to Boston to rally, asking him to stop all deportations. Because I know he has the power to stop them."
Bliss Requa-Trautz believes the nation has a quota and notes that the number of deportations has been highest under the current administration. "It’s a scary situation. If it’s your neighbor today it might be you tomorrow. And so there's a lot of fear and anxiety. Especially talking with law enforcement, who have been the major way that our families in western Mass. have been entered into deportation proceedings. For something as small as a traffic violation, people have ended up detained for months and then deported away from their families.
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