Dozens denounce deportations in Chinatown protest

By Zipporah Osei, news correspondent

Dozens of immigrants and immigrant rights activists from the Greater Boston area marched Saturday in Chinatown to resist deportations of undocumented immigrants.

The rally was planned by the Boston May Day Coalition, an organization that advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants. The protest coincided with nationwide immigration protests the day after an executive order signed by President Donald J. Trump prevented travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The order led to many travelers being detained in airports across the country.

“I think now more than ever we need to make citizenship more accessible to people who come to this country through changing people’s minds and by changing policy,” said Sarah Schmidt, a third-year mechanical engineering major. “That’s why a march like this matters.”

Protesters gathered at the Chinatown Gate at 1 p.m. before marching toward the State House. The march was followed by a speakout where those interested could hear about how to further help the cause.

Many of those in the crowd expressed solidarity with those who were impacted by the Muslim immigration ban as well as anxiety over what might be next for other immigrant communities in the country. Most were people who would be personally affected by legislation targeting undocumented immigrants and expressed concerns over increasing hostility toward immigrants, fear of being separated from their families and anxiety over losing their rights as workers.

Third-year mechanical engineering major Taliza Sanchez said she came to the rally knowing how deportations can adversely affect immigrant communities.

“My mom worked as a translator for students and parents who don’t speak English and she always told me about the struggle [deportations] create. There is constantly tension at home for these kids, and it affects their school work,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s important we all become more active in changing policies about deportation so America can continue to be a country built for and by immigrants.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Howard Huang, a Taiwanese immigrant who delivered a speech to the crowd in Mandarin, Taiwanese and English. The first-year master’s student at Boston College reminded the crowd that documented and undocumented workers were part of the livelihood of the country and urged protesters to put pressure on politicians and the media to talk about all immigrants, including those from Asian countries.

“We have no idea what our future holds,” Huang said. “We have only ourselves, community and solidarity to rely on.”

After hearing from Huang, protesters marched from Chinatown toward the Common. Along the way, they chanted phrases in Spanish and English such as, “We say yes to education, we say no to deportation,” “Border walls are lethal, refugees are people” and “The people united will never be divided.” Their signs were in Chinese, Spanish and English.

The march gained the attention of many passing people, some of whom decided to join after hearing what the protest was about. Maria Sanchez, a member of the organization Refuse Fascism who attended the demonstration, said that kind of enthusiasm is necessary to see results.

“What it takes to have any kind of appreciable change in this country is for people to come together,” Sanchez said. “The more people who decide to resist, the better.”

The Boston May Day Coalition hopes to make use of the momentum created by rallies like this to continue helping undocumented immigrants around the country. John Harris, a long-time member of the coalition, spoke about the importance of long-term efforts toward change.

“This [fight] is not going to be over in a week or two, or a month or two or a year or two,” he said. “Donald Trump and his right-wing buddies in Washington cannot withstand the power of the people united in the massive movement of people we are trying to build.”  

Photo by Jenny Yang

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