Drastic changes to immigration policy now being undertaken by the current president of the United States are endangering families here in Massachusetts who originate from Latin American countries. Thousands of families like ours live in communities across the Commonwealth — touching every part of our state — from our urban centers to even rural areas where many work in the agricultural sector right here in Massachusetts.
Donald Trump’s recent visit to the state of Arizona left me with no doubt that he has a direct attack on our families of Latin American origin and is targeting our families, specifically in homes where parents have not had the opportunity to establish themselves legally and obtain a green card to obtain work permits due to the mountains of red tape, inequitable treatment and bureaucracy involved. In many of these homes, parents live below the poverty line because they have to work under the minimum wage, have more than one job in order to pay rent and put a plate of food on the table.
Personally, I know many families residing in the state of Massachusetts who live in fear daily because of the impending threat of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and Donald Trump’s push to make federal law 287g become mandatory in all states. This law would give authority to local authorities to collaborate with ICE, to arrest any undocumented person and to deliver them to the federal authorities — and even if this person does not commit a crime, this person would be considered criminal.
Although, local authorities are not collaborating with ICE, the raids have already begun in Massachusetts and in cities like Chelsea, East Boston and Lawrence where there is a notable presence of our community. As a Commonwealth, we must stand to protect these families and fight back — not help them destroy our lives.
Just last month, Governor Baker appointed a Latino Commission to help him prioritize the issues and concerns of our community in the development of policies across the Commonwealth and already many who have agreed to serve have expressed disappointment with the Governor’s willingness to cooperate with the Trump administration. This move has also cast a shadow over how the Latino community views Governor Baker on the grassroots level.
Locally, many municipalities, public schools, churches have stepped forward to declare sanctuaries, and are willing to shelter these families who are exposed to be separated — but clearly more must be done. Excuses from Governor Baker that he is personally opposed to this law but claims our hands are tied because of the threat of losing millions of federal funds are ridiculous. This position of Donald Trump may force many states to deal with 287g until it’s constitutionality is challenged in court (due process still exists in America!) — but actively cooperating with the implementation of this federal law would also have implications to state coffers — with taxpayers footing the bill for the cost of personnel and housing detained individuals indefinitely.
I am totally opposed to this federal law being a national mandate because it does not give a resolution to the complicated issue of immigration and undocumented families. Since Reagan passed an immigration law in the early 1980’s, every effort to pass fair, meaningful legislation instead of punishing and penalizing families has been all talk and no action. And frankly at this moment, our community needs more than just good intentions from our elected officials.
Missing from this conversation is a lack of understanding by Donald Trump and his supporters that many of these families are made up of innocent children that are actually American citizens who have no voice to defend their parents and in a process that will cripple their families and break their homes apart. Social injustice and inequity is a phenomenon that we have to confront day by day to eradicate, that is why I joined Massachusetts Parents United where justice for families is at the center of our mission. Together we are a united family that is building a collective voice and not only talk but to demand action and provide accountability for those who remain sitting on the sidelines.
MPU families are under attack and separations are happening. We demand action now.
For more information visit us at www.maparents.org
What do you think?