Opposing ICE Secure Communities Mass Detention & Deportation Program in MA
UU Mass Action and the Unitarian Universalist Association have been working with our immigrant partners to stop the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Secure Communities” from coming to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for more than a year. There is strong opposition to Secure Communities in the Commonwealth, including objections from the Governor. In spite of this, the federal government will implement Secure Communities starting today, May 15, 2012.
The federal government gave very short notice of this implementation date, giving grassroots organizations little time to plan and coordinate actions of opposition and protest. Nevertheless, grassroots organizations are finding a way to speak up for justice.
Centro Presente asked UU Mass Action and other concerned organizations and people to join them for a series of actions denouncing the implementation of this policy. The first of these was a rally and press conference on Friday, May 11, In front of the ICE offices at the JFK building in Boston, MA, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
A crowd of approximately 150 people came together Friday morning to voice our opposition to Secure Communities. There was a wonderful diversity at the rally. In addition to Centro Presente and UU Mass Action, groups such as the Boston Chinatown Resident Association, the Brazilian Immigrant Center, the Chinese Progressive Association, Massachusetts ACLU, the Student Immigrant Movement, Boston New Sanctuary Movement, and representatives from Occupy Boston and Veterans For Peace were there to voice strong concern. Some of the signs visible said, “1 Million Deportations, 1 Million Families Separated”; “Say No to Secure Communities – it will increase the number of unreported incidents of domestic violence”; “no human being is illegal”; “S-Comm Hurts Communities”; “End S-Comm, Don’t Mend It”; and “I Pledge to Break ICE’s Hold on My Community and Country”.
The rally included several moving talks from those in the immigrant community who will be directly impacted. There was a skit depicting a “forced marriage” between ICE and local law enforcement. One of the speakers, in fact, was a retired police officer who expressed his serious concerns about Secure Communities, particularly the impact it would have on destroying trust between local police and local communities.
My heart swelled to see this gathering, coming together on a weekday morning to speak up for justice, community, and love. As Susan Leslie, Director, Office for Congregational Advocacy & Witness at the UUA, said to me, “This is what the ‘Beloved Community’ looks like.” I could not agree more.
I had the honor of giving the benediction at the rally. Not only was it the first time I ever delivered a prayer with a megaphone, but it was also the most humbling experience I have ever had of trying to find sacred words that would be worthy of such a beautiful and powerful gathering of people committed to justice. Together, we prayed that we would remember our highest aspirations and strive to be our best selves as we worked to bend the arc of the moral universe ever closer toward justice.
See Boston Globe video coverage of the event.
UU Mass Action is organizing with the UUA, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and others asking congregations and individuals to join the campaign to Restore Trust to Our Communities by Breaking Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Hold.
The Rev. Lara Hoke is the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, MA and serves on the Board of UU Mass Action.