Immigration advocates in Everett and surrounding communities thought they would be coming together on Tuesday, May 19, to celebrate the beginning of President Barack Obama’s deferred action executive order (DACA) for illegal immigrants, but instead they were gathered at LUMA in Everett to warn of increased deportations of local residents by the federal government.
While the DACA order came out last November, and was seen as a protection for millions of folks in the country illegally, it was only supposed to be implemented by May 19. However, a court case has mired its implementation and put it on hold, leaving many in the immigrant community, once again, in the lurch.
Now, Lucy Pineda of LUMA in Everett, and others who advocate for immigrant rights, says that there has been an increase in arrests and detentions by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the area.
“The reason we are here today is because we have had a visit from the Department of Homeland Security and ICE and they have detained some members of our community,” she said on Tuesday at a press conference at the Ferry Street office. “We have four cases where people here have been detained. Three of them have deportation orders and criminal records. One has an order hearing and then he will be released. He has an interview on May 29…We have a responsibility to support our community when we have people of good, moral character. To us, it’s not criminal to come to the U.S. without documents, but by the law it is. We continue to help folks as we can. If they already have criminal cases, we can’t do anything.
“We are opting to help and support the man with the May 29 hearing,” she continued. “He’s doing good here, working, paying taxes and he’s married with a child.”
Also at the press conference was the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), who called for an end to deportations of children and the separation of families.
Already, several Spanish-speaking media outlets have reported about a recent case where a local young man was sent to California as part of a detention process – a process that separated him from his family by thousands of miles.
“We want the communities in Everett, Revere, Chelsea and the North Shore to know that we stand with them,” said Kevin Ferreira, interim director of organizing at MIRA. “If you had hold me a couple of months ago that I would be here in Everett on May 19 to talk about immigration, I would have figured it would have been to celebrate the implementation of DACA. Instead, I’m here to commemorate with communities all over the country that it should have went into effect today, but didn’t…We want to insist the deportation of young children and families and those people who pose no threat to our community should stop. It would be a great burden for our communities and our economy.”
Added Pineda, “We need to celebrate, but we have not announced anything to celebrate today. We continue to see families separated. This is not the American Dream. We all know the immigration system is broken.”
An important point that was made is that the apparent new push by ICE is not only affecting the Latino community in Everett, but also the Brazilian, Haitian and Muslim communities.
“These four cases should be a red flag for all communities to come together and dig deeper into this,” said Rev. Myrlande Desrosiers of the Everett Haitian Community Center. “It’s worth paying attention to because the four cases are probably a pattern of so man
y others who are afraid to come to a community organization. There’s the fear of deportation that could be holding people back.”
Pineda said one of the things they are stressing is that people know their rights.
“It’s really important our community knows their rights,” she said. “If the police or ICE were to come to their doors, they need to know their rights. They need to know if they open the door whether they need to show an ID or to get a lawyer…If they move and they have a hearing, they need to make sure they change their mailing address. If they don’t know how to do that, we are here to help. It’s very important to do things normally in these situations – go to work, take the kids to school and do things normally.”