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Boston activists march on Boston Common while Congress remains stalled on immigration reform

Nate Homan | 8/13/2014, 12:26 p.m.
Local immigration supporters called on elected officials to support immigration reform. House Republicans filed legislation seeking to force the Obama ...
Immigration activists rally at Copley Square before marching to the Boston Common last week. While the GOP-controlled Congress passed a measure that would have expedited deportations of child immigrants, Democrats are advocating evaluating immigrants on a case-by-case basis. (Banner photo)

The tone on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. is distinctively different from the message sent by Massachusetts activists and politicians, who rallied on the Common and demanded a new, more compassionate nationwide approach to addressing the recent deluge of undocumented children arriving at the U.S. border.

The House of Representatives passed two anti-immigration bills on August 1 that would block President Barack Obama from taking executive action on immigration while expediting the deportation process. The House bill, which passed 216-192, seeks to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-backed program introduced during the summer heading into the 2012 election.

Congressman Mike Capuano said that the GOP bills were more political theater and posturing than actual legislative measures.

“This was nothing more than an attempt to send a political message to President Obama and the Democrats in Congress,” Capuano said. “It has no chance of going any further. The Senate is already gone on break and the President would veto the bill even if it somehow passed the Senate.”

Capuano said that he voted against these bills because the measures are “Anti-American.”

“My guess is that many of these children will be sent home. But these are different children from different countries with different stories, and some of them may fit the criteria for refugee status. My hope is that the immigration policy should be willing to help human beings to help get their fair share of the American dream.”

“I am all for secure borders and for following rules. But each of these children should be treated and judged on an individual basis,” Capuano said. “This is time consuming and it makes people uncomfortable, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Last week, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition hosted a rally at Copley Square and marched up to the State House, calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to adopt a more compassionate approach to the children fleeing to the Mexico/Texas border from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where rampant violence and poverty are driving many to make the risky journey north.

Marchers held signs calling for due process and asylum for the children held in detention centers and thanked Governor Deval Patrick for his compassion towards reuniting families.

“We believe that all of the children coming here from Central America deserve full due process and a chance to prove their case for asylum,” Frank Soults, MIRA Coalition communications director said.

“We also want to thank Governor Patrick for offering a center for these children that’s no longer needed. But there are hundreds of children already here and hundreds more on their way.”

Soults said that MIRA and other activist groups condemn the House bills, calling them cold, mean spirited pieces of legislation.

“Both of these bills seem to be pandering to the Republican base, who are out of touch with what the American people want,” Soults said.

“Passing these bills showed a lack of understating towards the children who were brought here by their parents who just want a chance at an education and a decent life here. They seemed to be coming around in 2012, but then they turned around and passed a bill that called for deportations. It seems as if they’re pushing for a pure enforcement regime that will create economic hardship for the country while tearing families apart. It’s a mean spirited approach that will ultimately fail them.”