On Saturday September 16th, protesters congregated in front of the Boston State House in response to the recent repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. Despite the gloomy, overcast day, hundreds of Bostonians—immigrants and citizens alike—showed up in solidarity with the Dreamers living in Massachusetts.
Since its implementation during the Obama Administration, DACA has protected the rights of undocumented immigrants, who were children when their parents brought them into the United States, from deportation and has allowed them to gain work permits. Leading up to the September 5th repeal, the Trump Administration cited a variety of reasons for the repeal of the program, from the possible dangers posed by illegal immigrants to the unconstitutionality of DACA’s passing.
The rally was organized by the Boston May Day Coalition after the decision to repeal DACA was announced. May Day, also known around the globe as International Workers’ Day, has been celebrated in most European and North American countries since the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago, Illinois. A strike for labor rights such as an eight-hour workday turned violent, marking a turning point in the history of labor rights and standards across many countries. When Boston failed to host a May Day celebration in 2006, the Boston May Day Coalition sought to remedy it. Since then, the group has advocated for the equal treatment and protection of immigrants.
Bostonians of all ages and ethnicities came together on Saturday in solidarity in protest of DACA’s repeal and the repeal’s threats of deportation. College students sported sweatshirts representing Boston University, Wellesley College, Suffolk University and more. Members of various organizations from the Massachusetts Teachers Union to Veterans for Peace to Black Lives Matter held up their respective signs in support of DACA.
Speakers at the rally included the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Union Barbara Madeloni, City Councilor Tito Jackson, and even a student from the Latino Medical Student Association at Boston University. These speakers condemned the repeal and expressed their support for immigrants. Many called for the official declaration of Boston as a “sanctuary city,” which is a city that resists federal immigration laws. Though the speakers fired up the throng of protesters with their passionate rhetoric, by the end of the speeches the crowd was tired of standing around, eagerly awaiting the march itself.
Following the speakers, organizers directed the protesters to march away from the State House, through the Boston Common, and onto the streets of Downtown Boston. The protesters walked through Downtown Crossing, past Government Center and City Hall and finished at the JFK Federal Building. This reporter witnessed a passerby stopping to take pictures of the plethora of signs, some of which read “Outraged and Unafraid,” “Immigrants Make America Great,” and “In Diversity there is Beauty and Strength.” Others cheered along and some drivers honked in support.
As they marched, protesters joined in chants such as, “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido”—which translates from Spanish to “the people united will never be defeated.” This rallying cry has been repeated at rallies since President Trump’s inauguration in January and it clearly isn’t going away. Not only does it illustrate continuing resistance to the Trump Administration, the translation into Spanish reflects the patchwork of diversity as being key to the foundation of America.
There is a six-month period before the ultimate repeal of DACA. In this period, time allotted for Congress to devise alternate solutions to the repeal, immigrants plan preemptive measures in anticipation of difficult times ahead. Though immigrants have this brief time cushion, Dreamers both in Massachusetts and around the country are already feeling the insecurity and panic settle in. In Boston specifically—a city known for its staggering amount of colleges and universities—young students risk living in constant fear. Instead of focusing their education, which their families and their families’ numerous sacrifices depend upon, student may begin to worry every day about being forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known. Boston, however, has time and time again demonstrated it’s willingness to rise up and unite, and the energy felt on Saturday gave no indication of fizzling out any time soon.