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Opposing ICE Secure Communities Mass Detention & Deportation Program in MA

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May 15, 2012

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.

no_human_being_is_illegalThe 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”.

534971_4051190606458_1482790733_33576366_536830582_nThe 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.

lara1UU 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.

4 Responses to “Opposing ICE Secure Communities Mass Detention & Deportation Program in MA”

  1. Joan McGinn says:


    Great article! I think if more people knew about the negative impact of Secure Communities, they would also be upset. As you indicated, in MA there was little warning of its imminent implementation, and got by with little notice.
    Thanks for your work on this important issue.

  2. Bob Funke says:

    We will not let this stand; we will fight this nightmare and ensure that all people are treated as the human beings thet are.



  3. Jeff says:

    What would help me is a link to the Act, and some analysis that is relatively free of hyperbole. I get that folks don’t like this. I’m not so clear on the provisions that are getting people pissed off. That may be because I have not had the chance to read the actual provisions.

    Thanks. And I have said it for years: There are no illegal people.


  4. Independent research by sociologists indicates that the presence of immigrants in communities actually provides a “protective effect” against crime in the very neighborhoods in which they live. In this light, the link between federal and local authority is a further unnecessary erosion of all of our civil liberties, not to mention of those populations—documented immigrants included—who are directly affected.

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