By John Lynds
He’s taken a tough stance against President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against immigrants, challenged Trump’s travel bans, and recently stood up against the president’s removal of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) or DREAMers program that hundreds of East Boston children benefitted from.
This is why Latinos in Eastie are standing with Mayor Martin Walsh during his re-election bid for a second term and are saying they need the Mayor more now than ever.
On Saturday morning in Orient Heights Square dozens of Latinos held a rally for Walsh and thanked him for his unwavering support in the face of national uncertainty.
There’s a lot of fear these days in Eastie. Already U.S. Border Patrol has detained two Excel Academy Charter School students this month during a checkpoint operation in New Hampshire. One student was heading into the 7th grade while the other was an 11th grader. Both, by all accounts, were stellar students and the future of the tight knit multicultural community.
“It’s just sickens me,” said Walsh, whose parents immigrated from Ireland.
The tension is so high in Eastie, Boston and the rest of the country that Walsh’s administration and Boston Public School’s had to recently assure parents that their children would be safe regardless of immigration status.
“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in fighting for the continued protection of all DREAMers, those law-abiding young people who have come to this country — often through no choice of their own — and have grown up and been educated here,” wrote BPS in a statement. “These are hardworking students, employees, and even members of the military who enrich and strengthen our communities. Eliminating DACA would drive them into the shadows, depleting our schools and our workforce of productive members of our society who simply yearn to pursue their dreams and fulfill their full potential. Boston’s educators remain as committed today as ever in continuing our work to protect and uplift all students, families, and communities. We remain steadfast in our efforts to ensure that we welcome and meet the needs of all children who walk through our doors, regardless of their race or immigration status.”
At Saturday’s rally Eastie Latinos and immigrants that have contributed tremendously to the fabric of the community, like Veronica Robles and Jose Alvarez, spoke highly of the Mayor’s involvement in the struggles immigrants face under the new Presidential Administration.
“Mayor Walsh has made me feel at home,” said Robles, who immigrated to Eastie from Mexico. “He has supported my work and the work of all the other immigrants in the community. He really is appreciates what we do and understands our struggles.”
Walsh, addressing the crowd, said the past 10 months have been trying times for immigrants and their families.
“What I want you to do today when you are talking with people, particularly immigrants, I want you to let them know that they live in a safe place. That they live in a city that is 100 percent behind them. Let them know we will continue to fight for their rights. Let them know their kids can go to our schools without worrying. Let them know their police department and elected officials are strongly behind them because that is what is important.”
Walsh said there was a time not to long ago when Jews came to Boston and were not welcome, when Irish came to Boston and were not welcome, when Italians came to Boston and were not welcome.
“The difference today is that immigrants have a strong local government that supports them and standing with them in this fight,” said Walsh. “Back then you were on your own. All immigrants are welcome in our city.”
Walsh said that it is not his fight alone and the talented staff at City Hall deserve just as much praise.
“The people that work with me every day are the ones on the front lines,” said Walsh. “We have set a tone in the city and we are standing up for what we believe in. For me this isn’t like I woke up yesterday and said I’m going to take on this fight. I grew up in a family that was an immigrant family so I know the fight.”