At Boston Immigration Rally, Protesters Declare: ‘Families Belong Together’

Thousands of people protested Saturday in Boston against President Trump's policy of separating migrant families at the border.

The Trump administration has switched in recent weeks between declaring the policy a deliberate attempt to deter immigration to the United States, defending its policy using Bible verses, falsely claiming that the White House could not change the policy without Congress' help, and later, in the face of blithering national criticism, reversing the policy and claiming family separations were never intended.

And even after saying the family separations would stop, the Trump administration has not made public a clear plan of how it would do this, immigration advocates have pointed out.

"I spoke with the person in charge of the ICE facility, and he said he didn't know what the plan was," Senator Elizabeth Warren told NBC10 Boston, speaking about her trip to the U.S.-Mexico border last week. "We are still breaking families apart, and that is fundamentally wrong."

The "Together & Free: Rally Against Family Separation" kicked off at 11 a.m. with a morning march from City Hall Plaza to Boston Common where the large rally is taking place.

The protest was timed with other protests nationwide and was also meant to oppose Trump's ban on travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations. During his candidacy, Trump famously said he wanted a "complete and total shut down of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."

Trump has also implemented bans on refugees during his presidency, which so far have remained temporary.

"I feel like it's a war against our values," explained one protester about why they decided to attend.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was joined by Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy at the rally.

Sen. Warren called for swift reunification of children and parents.

"This is about mamas who want their children back," she said. She also told the crowd about her visit to detention facilities where immigrants are being held. "What I saw made me sick to my stomach," she said. "I saw cages and cages and cages of human beings."

Rep. Joe Kennedy echoed that sentiment. "We are here to reaffirm something that should never have to be said -- that children belong with their parents," he said. "That there is a connection that we share by nature of being human, that anyone, anyone, can see the humanity in the eyes of a child, and that when the greatest government on Earth takes its frustrations out on a 2-year-old little girl or an infant little boy, we stand up and say, 'Not on our watch.'"

 Sen. Ed Markey referenced Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech to contrast what he called Donald Trump's dream.

"Donald Trump says that he wants to make America great again. Donald Trump wants to make America hate again," Sen. Markey said. "And we are standing up and saying that he will not take our country. We will not allow him to control the agenda of our country. We are going to ensure that he understands that he is in for a fight."

Organizers say they want all children and parents to be reunited after being split up as part of the Trump administration's policy. They're also demanding local government agencies stop cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The state senate has already passed the Safe Communities Act, which would limit the amount of information the state shares with ICE.

Activists say it's time for the State House and Governor Charlie Baker to sign on.

"No working with immigration, no police asking people for their papers, and due process for immigrants," said Lily Huang, co-director of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice. "Our first obstacle is the house and then we will need to make sure that [Charlie] Baker hears our voice, that Gov. Baker sees the will of the people and that we won’t stand for this in Massachusetts."

President Trump tweeted earlier this week that immigrants who enter the country illegally should not be given due process -- a drastic change that immigration advocates have said is illegal and unconstitutional.

More than 600 marches were expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people across the country on Saturday. Organizers say that some 15,000 people showed up at the Massachusetts event.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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