At Irish Famine Memorial, a strong show of solidarity for immigrants

U.S. Sen. Markey joined a diverse group of advocates to decry the mass deportation agenda and anti-immigrant legislation and pledge continued resistance.

Eva Millona at Irish Famine Memorial July 2017MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona called for unity against the agenda of mass deportation and xenophobia.

BOSTON, July 6, 2017 – U.S. Senator Edward Markey today joined members of labor and nonprofit organizations by the Irish Famine Memorial in downtown Boston to show solidarity for immigrants and send a strong message to federal officials that immigrants have made America great for over 200 years.

“The Trump administration’s immigration policies are unfair, unconstitutional, and un-American,” Senator Markey said. “Instead of immoral and punitive proposals like the Muslim ban, border wall, and a deportation force, we should focus on what matters most to our immigrant communities – good jobs, quality education and safe neighborhoods. I will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform and to ensure that the American Dream is achievable for all.”

Senator Markey appeared with members of 32BJ SEIU, MIRA, Jobs with Justice and the Irish International Immigrant Center. Together, they condemned the mass deportation strategy of the Trump administration and anti-immigrant bills recently passed by Congress.

They also expressed support for Francisco Rodriguez, a 32BJ member and janitor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is at risk of being deported despite being the father of U.S. citizens.

“Now more than ever, we need to stand together to defend our values and protect the most vulnerable among us,” said MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “Massachusetts is home to more than 1 million immigrants. They are our friends, co-workers and neighbors, and we will not stand quietly as they are demonized and scapegoated.”

SenMarkey 32BJ Irish famine Jul2017U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks in support of Francisco Rodriguez, who stands behind him.

“Two days ago we celebrated the birthday of this great nation, a country where immigrants have made the American Dream possible,” said Roxana Rivera, 32BJ SEIU Vice-President. “Now the very idea of America as a country where immigrants can thrive is under attack. In a few short months, the Trump administration has assaulted to the very core the tradition we celebrate every July 4.”

“We are here not only to denounce this assault, but to fight it,” Rivera continued. “We are here to ask you to support pro-immigrant elected officials, and to call immigrations and customs enforcement for good people like our member Francisco Rodriguez.”

Rodriguez has been asked to report to immigration officials on July 13 with travel documents in hand, despite having received a stay of deportation every year since 2011. Rodriguez came to the U.S. fleeing death threats in his native El Salvador, and the community has rallied to his support in a petition signed by over 1,000 faculty and students at MIT.

Demonstrators also spoke out against two bills recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 3003 aims to penalize so-called “sanctuary cities” by cutting off some federal funding; H.R. 3004 (“Kate’s Law”) would increase the penalties for reentry after deportation, with sentences as high as 10–25 years for convicted criminals and people with repeat reentries. Two Massachusetts Congressmen, Rep. Stephen Lynch and Rep. William Keating, voted for “Kate’s Law.”

“We oppose the draconian laws, the harsh enforcement tactics, and the implementation of the senseless and divisive ban against refugees and travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries,” said Ronnie Millar, executive director of the Irish International Immigrant Center. “We have seen the fear sown in the immigrant community firsthand, and we are outraged at the current anti-immigrant onslaught.

“The Irish were refugees in the 1800s, fleeing starvation and death, and had to overcome serious, anti-immigrant opposition,” Millar continued. “Today, we are determined not to pull up the ropes, but to stand in solidarity in this fight, determined to work together to create a more welcoming and fair society.”