Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Mayor Walsh is protecting Boston’s immigrants, but he shouldn’t have to

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a press release last week that the city’s formerly deactivated Human Rights Commission will be reinstated, with a plan to “pay special attention to the needs of Boston’s immigrant communities.” The Commission was established to ensure fair treatment of all the city’s residents and investigate discrimination in areas such as housing and education.

This announcement comes after the Trump administration moved immigration officers in Newark and Boston, the only New England cities currently processing asylum claims, to the southern border as a result of “shifting priorities,” according to The Boston Globe. 

But putting asylum cases on pause will force thousands of people to live in limbo, not knowing if at any moment their plea will be denied and they may eventually be sent back to the conditions they sought to escape. Of course, Trump’s America has no problem exploiting their economic and societal input in the meantime. 

Undocumented people pay taxes just like U.S. citizens do, and if they were to stop participating in the workforce, the effects could be devastating for the economy. This is not to mention the rich cultural contributions migrants bring with them that promote diversity and inclusion.

And it is not a coincidence that the officers Trump chose to relocate hail from one of the largest “sanctuary cities” for immigrants in the country, not to mention one of the most reliably Democratic. Rather than spread the burden of staff cuts across the country, he removed officers from an area where more immigrants would likely be granted asylum.

This is not unusual for the administration, which has been known for its fierce anti-immigration stance since Trump launched his 2016 campaign. The man in the White House claims to be actively solving a crisis of mass migration at the border, but in the process, he has created a devastating humanitarian injustice through inhumane detention camps. 

Although not explicitly in response to Trump’s choice to halt more than 40,000 pending asylum cases in Boston, Walsh’s decision to reactivate the Human Rights Commission is part of what seems like a larger initiative in the City to protect its immigrant population. 

This year, Walsh has pledged $50,000 for an immigrant defense fund and made moves to enact a stronger “Trust Act,” which clarifies that the Boston Police Department cannot “interrogate, detain, or arrest an individual solely for immigration enforcement purposes,” according to WBUR. 

Where the federal government has failed, Walsh has stepped in to protect the rights of immigrants in any way he can.

Still, the country at large should be responsible for managing its immigration in a way that is humane and a way that is just. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency from which Trump diverted staff in Boston and Newark, is a federal organization. 

Trump’s habit of politicizing human life is forcing state and local policymakers to rethink their priorities. To account for the widespread mistreatment they see in their communities following Trump’s appalling disregard for legal — not to mention undocumented — immigrants, places like Boston are forced to reallocate funds to protect their immigrant communities.

Walsh has done a noble job tackling the injustice he has seen in this community. But it is unfortunate the task had to fall on his shoulders in the first place.

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