Centro Presente Holds Vigil in Solidarity with the Immigrant Community

IMG_1780.jpgBy Satenik Karapetyan
The message at Boston’s City Hall Plaza was just say “No” to deportation.
Dozens of immgrants and immigrant advocates gathered to protest the Secure Communities initiative. They rallied under the watch of 10 Boston police officers.
Secure Communities is a federal program that allows the FBI to share fingerprints of arrested people with federal immigration officials. Immigration officials can decide whether or not to deport undocumented immigrants they deem to be severe criminals.
Centro Presente lead the crowd in song and prayer. They chanted in both English and Spanish for justice. Centro Presente is a state-wide Latin American immigrant organization dedicated to helping local Latin American immigrant communities struggling with immigrant rights. For over a year, they have been leading the Just Communities grassroots campaign.
Immigrant activists are seeking a comprehensive approach to immigration, arguing that S-Comm allows for the deportation of non-criminals, tearing apart families. They argue that the program is criminalizing people who are not criminals but rather trying to bring food home to their families. In addition immigrants are often afraid to interact with local law enforcement.
Minister Mariama White-Hammond is the Executive Director of Project Hip-Hop, and a youth leader in the Roxbury community. She was able to get the crowd riled up. “I want the police to spend their time figuring out how to keep illegal guns out of our neighborhoods but I see how things like that don’t get addressed when people are afraid to talk to the police. The police are instead spending their time deporting people who have committed no crime or who have committed a misdemeanor like running a red light.”
Christine Rosario who lives in East Boston had the same sentiments. “We need the police to be our friend, not our enemy. That’s what we would like to see, them as my friend so I can feel open to call them when I see some situation. Right now people don’t call the police because they are afraid that they are going to make an investigation on you. I don’t want that. I want a safe Boston in the fair way.”
Governor Deval Patrick has refused to sign Massachusetts into the program. However Suffolk County, which includes the city of Boston, continues to participate in the Secure Communities initiative.
Supporters of S-Comm say that it will allow law enforcement to catch and deport serious criminals, making cities and town safer.
Boston was one of the very first cities to implement Secure Communities when it began as just a pilot program 5 years ago. Currently, the initiative is in 43 states, and Puerto Rico.
ICE, or federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already announced that it doesn’t need states to sign off on Secure Communities. In 2 years the program will be mandatory nationwide.