"Education, not deportation," and "Keep your hands off our students."
Those were the words on two prominent signs, and the theme of a protest Thursday in Harvard Square in Cambridge against the Trump administration's ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields from deportation 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
Before linking arms at around 5 p.m. and completely blocking Massachusetts Avenue for about 10 minutes outside Harvard's main gate, faculty from several greater Boston universities and colleges held a rally in Harvard yard attended by some 200 students and faculty.
Most of the faculty speaking at the rally decried the ending of DACA, saying it would be unjust to take education away from undocumented students.
Ahmed Ragab is a professor at Harvard's Divinity School. He told the crowd he had driven there from Faneuil Hall, where he had been sworn in as a U.S. citizen just hours before.
"While I am allowed to stay in this country and to work in this country and to raise my family here," Ragab said, "my students are not allowed to do this. My students are threatened to be taken away from this country. Their country. A country that will always be theirs as much as it will be mine."
Reverend Jonathan Walton is also a Harvard Divinity School professor. He called Trump a weak leader who was using undocumented immigrants as scapegoats.
"He wants to conceal your contributions," Walton said. "He wants to deny your dignity. He wants to outlaw your existence. That's why we are here today. Because we are here to say to the U.S. president, to his attorney general, and all the insecure leaders of this nation, that no human being is illegal."
One of the rally speakers was introduced as Rosa, a Harvard student who is undocumented.
"Let me make something clear," she said. "We are outraged, we are sad, but we are not afraid. We did our time in the shadows and we are not going back. It took too much from us to come out. By stripping us of the only piece of hope that we have left, they empowered us. We no longer have anything to lose. And we will fight tooth and nail for what we deserve."
Chanting "education, not deportation," 30 faculty members linked arms across Massachusetts Avenue, blocking rush hour traffic. They were surrounded by dozens of supporters chanting vigorously for justice and for acceptance of immigrants.
Then a cheer went up as the first faculty protesters had their hands put in plastic zip-tie handcuffs, were arrested, and led away.