Thousands of Immigrants and Allies March for an End to Family Separation

Avani Kalra

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As thousands of marchers descended on the Boston Common Saturday, June 30, to protest President Trump’s immigration policies, 13-year-old Angela Palma feared that she might soon become a victim of anti-immigrant sentiment.

“Next year, we might be deported,” Palma said. “That is beyond terrifying.. We’re so thankful for everyone here today.”

Palma is in danger of being deported due to her parents’ Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as immigrants from El Salvador. In January, TPS for El Salvador was terminated, and a little less than 200,000 people have been given 18 months before they lost their legal status in America.

This decision was made despite high rates of crime and the complete inability of El Salvador to accommodate the return of this many immigrants––most of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades.  

Isabel Lopez, 52,  who was separated from her children while crossing the border, was reduced to tears by the sheer number of people present.

“I can’t really talk about it, still,” Lopez said, struggling to be heard over a roaring crowd, “but I am amazed at the love for the immigrant community that is here today.”

The rally came at a critical time, just one day after the Supreme Court voted to uphold President Trump’s travel ban, which prohibits immigration from seven countries: North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Venezuela.

Anwar Omeish, a student at Harvard University, has been personally affected by the ban.  “My family has been separated because of the ban,” Omeish said, “as have many others, so it is really important for me to be here today to tell that story.”

Protestors of all ages marched in the commons with passion and outrage. “It is not okay for people to be separated from their parents,” said Xavier Owens, age 7, as he clutched his lime green poster close to his chest. “We have to treat all human beings like people.”

Saturday’s “Rally against Family Separation” was organized by March Forward Massachusetts

in collaboration with the Massachusetts’ Teachers Association and Jobs for Justice.

The planning for the “Rally against Family Separation” began two weeks before the event, says Natalie Sanchez, president of March Forward Massachusetts’ Board. “The three organizations joined together, and just recruited everyone we knew to help us. We brought our various skills to the table, and look at this show of support that we are seeing.”

Between speakers, marchers chanted:  “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Save our children!”

The speakers included representatives from Jobs for Justice, The Massachusetts’ Teachers Association, and March Forward Massachusetts, as well as actress and headliner Sara Ramirez.

“I am here for the people who cannot be here,” Ramirez said. “The people who are incarcerated. The people who are undocumented. The people with three jobs. The people with children and no-one to babysit. I’m here for the black and brown communities that are under attack. We are all in crisis together, and we need to come together for the most marginalized.”

The most amazing thing, for Sanchez, as an organizer, was the diversity of the crowd that she saw. “For the first time, you’re seeing everyone,” she said. “You’re seeing Latinos, you’re seeing Blacks, you’re seeing Asians, you’re seeing Whites, you’re seeing Muslims. They are all coming together and realizing we’re all people. That’s the most beautiful thing.”