Immigrant activists rally to protest detention, deportation
Cosecha members staged correction center sit-in and march from Roxbury’s Dudley Square
Activists of the Cosecha movement are turning up the energy as they move toward a May 1 all-immigrant strike. Last Monday, dozens of marchers — including youth, religious community members and other activists — led the way from Orchard Gardens Park near Roxbury’s Dudley Square to the Suffolk County Correction Center. Waving flags and chanting and playing musical instruments, the demonstrators met up with another team of activists who sat outside the correction center doors, with arms linked.
The rally swelled to approximately a hundred people, 20 of whom were arrested before the event’s end. Organizer Gloribell Mota called for detention centers like the one in the Suffolk County jail to be shuttered and no new ones to be constructed, and protestors raised voices in songs and chants of support.
Diana Salas, who works as a researcher and volunteers with Cosecha, told the Banner that activists demand protection for all immigrants — not just some categories of immigrants.
“We feel bad for DREAMers [undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children], then we deport their mothers,” Salas said. She continued by nothing that such youth may work hard in school and follow the rules, yet find their families torn apart.
On Facebook, rally organizers evoked the stories of several recent deportees. In Ohio, Maribel Trujilo, a 41-year-old Mexican immigrant with no criminal record and four U.S.-born children, made headlines when she was deported this month. In California, Juan Manule Montes, a 23-year-old brought over from Mexico as a child, is said to be the first person protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status to be deported, although Department of Homeland Security officials claim that he violated — and thus forfeited — that protection.
Salas says deporting criminals is ineffective, as it does not solve the problem of criminal activity, it merely moves it to another country — with no guarantee that the effects will not impact those in the U.S.
The Cosecha movement takes as its goal “permanent protection for all immigrants” but avoids specific policy advocacy. Salas said there already is a plethora of policy experts and rights groups focused on that. Instead, Cosecha concentrates on maintaining the public’s attention on the issues and keeping energy alive.
“We are a movement that doesn’t know the details,” Salas said. “Our job is to keep the momentum.”
Under Trump, the pressure for change has mounted.
“What we have always believed never would happen is starting to happen,” Salas said.
Protestors also said they were alarmed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detainment of Alex Carrillo and two other Vermont activists, which many have viewed as an attempt to target and silence activists.
“We will continue to be bolder as well as inspiring,” Mota told the Banner.
Marie Ghitman, a Jamaica Plain resident and member of Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians, participated in the demonstration as the trombonist part of the music ensemble. Since Trump took office, she said she there were so many causes to fight for that she had to choose one to focus on. Driven by her work with immigrant families as a visiting nurse, she decided to channel her energies into fighting for immigrant and refugees.
“I’m horrified at the fact that immigrant families just want the best for their kids and are being targeted as if they’re evil,” Ghimtan told the Banner.
Activists are calling for immigrants to demonstrate how deeply interwoven they are in the nation’s social and economic fabric by removing themselves from work and school on Monday, May 1. Locally, activists and teachers who are taking off from work will meet at a church to provide children with educational instruction, said a Cosecha spokesperson. Supporters continue to hold fundraisers and contribute into a fund to support striking workers. Activists also intend to accompany the May 1 strikers back to work on May 2 in an effort to ensure they do not face retaliation from employers. Currently Cosecha members are in discussion with other groups on how to effectively continue to follow up and intervene to prevent any potential retaliation occurring at a later date.