More than 400 people attended a rally to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on Saturday at the Boston Common.
The Trump Administration announced its plan to rescind DACA, an Obama-era program that protects immigrants who were brought to the United States undocumented as children, on Sept. 5.
The rally was organized by the Boston May Day Coalition, and was co-sponsored by several other organizations in an effort to convey that Boston stands in solidarity with DACA recipients, Zayda Ortiz, a lead organizer at Indivisible Somerville, wrote in an email before the rally.
“Boston has always been a town of immigrants. Every new wave has made an impression and moved our city forward,” Ortiz wrote. “Although we have a complicated history when it comes race and our marginalized communities, we have united and lead the country in standing up for equality.”
Democratic leaders U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that they were negotiating with President Donald Trump on a deal for a pathway to citizenship for DACA participants.
Matthew Andrews, the co-chair of the Massachusetts chapter of the Green-Rainbow Party and an organizer with the Boston May Day Coalition, said in an interview before the rally that even though negotiations are reported to be in the works, the rally is a necessary way to pressure politicians to make the right choice.
“We feel we can’t rely on negotiations between democratic party leadership and Donald Trump to somehow resolve the matter favorably for us,” Andrews said. “The more we put pressure on them, the better results we’re going to get.”
Carlos Rojas, a Dreamer — the colloquial name given to immigrants benefiting from the program — said during the rally that he, along with other Dreamers, will not accept a deal if it affects their parents and other undocumented immigrants negatively.
“What undocumented immigrants and youth have to say today is that immigrant youth will not accept a pathway to citizenship if it comes at the expense of our parents and communities at the border and northwards and all immigrants in this country including those who have yet to come,” Rojas said.
Cata Santiago, a Dreamer and a member of Cosecha, a co-sponsor of the rally, said during the rally the goal was not only to support DACA recipients, but all undocumented immigrants in the country.
“We are standing here today because we’re still outraged and we’re still unafraid,” Santiago said. “Raids and deportations? We had that … before Trump came into office. We have to stop acting like we’re surprised because this country never recognized us.”
City Councilor Tito Jackson spoke during the rally about how the Boston City Council has been working to protect those in Boston who would be affected by the repeal of DACA.
“On Wednesday, the Boston city council, in a 13-0 vote, stood behind the brothers and sisters with DACA and we said, ‘Hands off our young people who have DACA. We stand with them, they are in our schools, they are future and they are here to stay,’” Jackson said.
Several people at the rally said it is important to defend DACA and the Dreamers, and the rally helped to spread support of the cause.
Emily Coughran, a sophomore in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences and a trained peacekeeper at the rally, said prior to the speakers that DACA’s potential repeal is attacking people who only help the United States.
“Having taken away these protections is really horrible because they were there to defend people that had the least rights but were also contributing massively to the nation as whole — to our economy, to our workforce and to our communities,” Coughran said.
Angela Manganiello, 54, of Medford, said before the rally defending Dreamers is vital because they are often perceived as criminals and the like, when in reality, they contribute positively to the nation.
“They’re contributing to our country, they’re contributing to our community, they contribute to our way of life, and it’s just not right what Trump wants to do or Congress or whoever wants to throw them out of the country,” Manganiello said. “You’re throwing away, putting away, a whole generation that’s enriching our country not only with the work they do but also economically.”
Ricardo Contreras, 28, of Somerville, said before the rally, as an undocumented person himself who is not a recipient of DACA, cutting the program will take away everything Dreamers have worked for.
“I am trying to fight against all of this hate and all of these things Trump has been doing against [the] undocumented,” Contreras said. “I think it will affect all of the Dreamers that have been able to reach more than they were before and are going to go back to the shadows, where they were in the past.”
Scott Melanson, 60, of Saugus, said the rally not only did people of all types come out to support, numerous types of issues besides DACA were shown support as well.
“I thought it was a good representation of all of the cultures and diversity and all of the issues,” Melanson said, “particularly for DACA, but also for many of the other groups that also have other [immigration] type issues.”