On March 18, in front of the JFK Building at Boston City Hall Plaza, Massachusetts leaders, and immigrant advocates spoke out in support of legislation that would ensure that Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders can obtain permanent residency.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), which represents a number of immigrant advocates statewide, organized the event. They were joined by Dreamers, or young undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children and qualified for protected status under DACA, TPS holders, U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark, James McGovern, and Ayanna Pressley, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
The Dream and Promise Act was introduced to Congress on March 12 by Democratic House leadership. Designated H.R. 6, the bill would provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship for Dreamers and people with TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
“The bill marks a sea change in immigration policy debates in Washington: protecting immigrants without demanding impossible tradeoffs – billions for a border wall, harsher enforcement policies, cuts to family migration,” said a MIRA Coalition statement on the bill.
The event opened up by acknowledging that people who have been staying in the U.S. for years under some kind of protected status now face deportation.
U.S. Senator Ed Markey said “this coalition represented the best of the Commonwealth and the best of our country,” and he criticized “the Trump Administration’s reckless decision” to terminate the Dreamers’ chances of staying in the United States. He said it’s “heartbreaking” that people who have created families here, pursued higher education, and worked for companies for years are being unceremoniously kicked out.
“We are going to act on the Dreamer’s promise, we are going to pass that in the United States House of Representatives,” said Rep. James McGovern. He said that the termination is “not only cruel, but it is also unconscionable.”
Congresswoman Katherine Clark said that accepting immigrants who into the United States benefits people who already live here too. “[It] is good for all of us, it is good for our community when we push back together against this dangerous and hateful and bigoted policies.”
One of the the Dreamers, Ivan H., is a freshman at Pine Manor College.
“I arrived here when I was 16, graduated with honors from my high school, and am now in college, studying molecular biology…Having the opportunity to have legal documentation would be like having the doors open of joys and blessings. If I have accomplished so much living in the shadows, imagine how much more I can accomplish living without fear of deportation, living as an American.”
José Palma, the coordinator of the National TPS Alliance and co-founder of the Massachusetts TPS Committee, called the bill “a step in the right direction” and stressed the urgency of the crisis created by the termination of TPS, DACA, and DED.
“We urge Congress to leave politics aside to avoid the separation of hundreds of thousands of additional families that have built their lives in this country,” he said. “There is nothing temporary about our families’ lives. And no excuse to make millions more vulnerable to family separation. That should not be controversial for either side of the aisle.”