Hundreds gathered on Beacon Hill on Wednesday to try to stop Massachusetts tax funds from being used to enforce federal immigration law, a cause inflamed by President Donald Trump's recent crackdown on travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim countries.
Protesters came out to Boston Common on Wednesday morning to support the Safe Communities Act, a bill that would restrict how local authorities interact with immigration enforcement.
According to sponsor Sen. Jamie Eldridge's office, the bill would prohibit the federal government from accessing state databases in order to compile a registry based on national origin, religion, or other characteristics. The bill would ban local and state public safety officials from enforcing federal immigration rules and would stop county sheriffs from being deputized as immigration agents. It would also order that people detained by state or local authorities be informed of their right to an attorney and to decline an interview with federal immigration officials.
A release from Eldridge's office publicizing the rally called Trump's orders "xenophobic executive actions on immigration," and said the proposed legislation aims to "protect the civil rights of all state residents by making sure our tax dollars are not used to help the Trump administration deport immigrant families or to create a Muslim registry."
The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Juana Matias, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who was elected to represent Lawrence this past November. Matias defeated Marcos Devers, the incumbent representative, in the Democratic primary race.
“I want all immigrants to our state and all our Muslim friends and neighbors to know that you have many allies in the Massachusetts Legislature,” Eldridge wrote in the release. “We know that many of you risked your lives fleeing political oppression and economic despair to come here so that you can enjoy equality, liberty, and opportunity – and we will stand firmly against those who want to take that away from you.”
The Safe Communities Coalition, the group behind the rally, includes advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, Centro Presente, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Essex County Community Organization, First Parish Brookline, Jewish Voices for Peace, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Service Employees International Union 32BJ District 615, and more.