Immigrants and activists have been sleeping in tents on the State House’s front steps for a week and half sacrificing in high heat and humidity, harsh rainfall, and threats that have raised increasing security concerns. All the while legislators and the state have largely ignored the encampment, taking their time to take action on licenses despite the nearing of the legislative session.
Legislators are comfortably at home while immigrants and activists are sacrificing to show the state just how important driver’s licenses really are. The immigrant community’s struggles have only been heightened in the pandemic, yet still has decided to take a stand for the chance of having access to a driver’s license that could prevent deportation and family separation. Now as the encampment has continued to persist, racist individuals have used intimidation tactics and threats.
Early Sunday morning, a man visited the camp site and asked if the camp was Black Lives Matter and repeatedly said if it was he would drive over them followed by threatening to beat up a member on our security team. The state cannot condone this treatment towards anyone, and needs to take action to support the vulnerable communities facing both systemic and individual attacks on their communities.
“We couldn’t avoid it, we didn’t go look for him, he came to us. It was ugly, we know folks are against this bill and don’t support us, and we are here to get a vote so that we would be able to get out of the shadows and drive without fear. Legislators need to take us into account, we are your neighbors, we are your community too, you need to govern for all your community. We live here and contribute, our children go to school. We feel ignored and it’s your job to make a decision and can’t avoid it.” Rosa Santos, Cosecha Worcester
In the face of the worst attacks against immigrants in this country, Massachusetts has taken it slow when it comes to protections for the immigrant community. The lack of immigration legislation in Massachusetts and now the complete ignoring of an encampment for 10 days at the statehouse asking for dignity and respect for immigrants. It seems the immigrant community cannot do enough to receive the support of legislators.
While 16 other states including Utah and Virginia have already passed similar legislation. If legislators are not be able to pass licenses before the legislative session ends, legislators will get to take a break, while undocumented immigrants will not get such a luxury. These last remaining days will be telling of whether or not Massachusetts will show they have the back of those in their community.