I was standing in the middle of a beautiful benevolent Beacon Street mob by the State House last week when a woman behind me yelled out, “He’s signing it. He just said that he’s gonna sign it. The president is going to sign an executive order.”
It was too late. By that point, people had already been disgusted with our moron POTUS and his racist stubborn immigration dance for years, and particularly outraged about his administration’s child separation policy for the last several weeks. No sudden turnaround on said horrendous policy, no matter how sincere (it wasn’t) or feasible (not that either) it may have been, could have pushed back the voices that had come to Beacon Hill to call for change. For the force they brought into the State House was that of a tide that had been ebbing for the longest, a gushing presence of people ranging from long-fighting immigrant activists to young people newly perturbed by the lack of humanity on such clear display these past couple of weeks.
Unless it’s First Night, the Fourth of July, or a championship sports parade, if there are that many folks crowding the streets of Boston, there’s usually negative national news in the air. This time it happened to be the extraordinarily horrible treatment of migrants and children in particular, but in my 15 years of covering this stuff I’ve seen the tipping point approached a few times—when the second Bush and his gang started their war in the Middle East, when Barack Obama let creatures of Wall Street not just clean up the enormous house of cards they toppled but allowed them to stack future decks with near impunity, and so on. These social forces may rise out of despair, but they also represent the best that we can be—a people and community that, while it may take quite a bit to motivate us since everybody’s always busy handling their own personal baggage, includes enough good and decent people who will rise up when monsters step too far out of acceptable boundaries. Like when the government gets caught abusing kids on camera.
As for those groups and individuals who always stand up on the right side of these issues, even when they aren’t in the headlines, here’s what Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition Executive Director Eva A. Millona said about Trump’s move that was announced from the crowd during MIRA’s action on Beacon Street last week.
This executive order does not reverse the “zero tolerance” policy initiated by this administration. Rather, it seeks to treat persecuted families as criminals. This is a despicable act that is a debasement of American values.
In addition to continuing to detain and criminally prosecute people seeking refuge, the Executive Order calls on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to seek a modification of the settlement reached in Flores v Reno. “Flores settlement” dictates that U.S. Department of Homeland Security keep children in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible, provide basic necessities such as medical care, and separate them from adults to whom they have no relation.
“In seeking to overturn Flores, in seeking to deny basic dignity to asylum-seekers, this administration is once again dehumanizing immigrants,” Millona said. “We urge Congress to see these heinous actions for what they are and take immediate measures to truly protect children and families. They must stand up and show the world that the values of this administration do not represent the values of our great nation.”
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.