Demonstrators Protest Deportations on Boston Common

A crowd of demonstrators gathered on the Boston Common to protest removing the Temporary Protected Status from 2,500 Nicaraguans and 59,000 Haitians on Sat., Dec. 2nd, 2017. Photo by Diego Marcano / BU News Service

By DiegoMarcano.
BU News Service

Protesters gathered on the Boston Common Saturday under a flag reading “Resist Deportations! Save TPS!” to show support for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders after the Department of Homeland Security terminated the designated protection for 2,500 Nicaraguans, 1,040 Sudanese and 59,000 Haitians.

The Boston May Day Coalition, the protest organizers, said in a press release that they are concerned that 57,000 Hondurans, and 200,000 Salvadorans who are also living in the United States under TPS could be asked to leave the country or face deportation.

There are currently 10 countries protected under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The program provides citizens of countries affected by natural disasters, civil war or other catastrophes permission to remain in the U.S.

Recently, Governor Charlie Baker of the State of Massachusetts sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, asking her to maintain the protected status for the approximately 5,000 Haitians, 6,000 Salvadorans and 1,000 Hondurans living lawfully in the State of Massachusetts.

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“My students are feeling fear,” said Carlos Contreras, a teacher at Somerville High School. “I honestly can’t imagine what it’s like to wake up and think that this could be the last day I see my son, or I see mom, or whatever family member. It’s awful. It’s constant fear.”

The chants, both in English and Spanish, echoed from the steps across from the Massachusetts State House.

“No human is illegal,” the protestors chanted. “No más deportación es nuestra resolución” (No more deportation is our resolution).

Protesters held signs that said “We need our neighbours, save TPS” and “Trump’s wives were immigrants.” Others said “Resist fascism” and “Let the dreamers live their right to the American Dream” as speakers approached the microphone to address the audience.

“The decision of this administration to terminate the TPS for the Haitian community is absolutely painful and we must stand together to fight,” said Patrick Jerome, Founder of the Boston International Film Festival.

“Haiti doesn’t have the system; it doesn’t have the setting to welcome those Haitians back,” he said. “It’s not safe for them to come back and it won’t be safe for decades. I’m glad that you’re here today, because they need us.”

Jerome immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 1993. He founded the Boston International Film Festival in 2003, which now offers over 100 screenings and live events from film producers all over the world.

For nationals of a designated TPS country to qualify for the program, they must pay a $495 fee, payable every time the permission is renewed. They must also have been residing in the U.S. at the moment of the country’s designation and have a no criminal record.

Joyce Sánchez, who participated in the protest on Saturday, said she would not be in the U.S. if her grandmother had not come from Panama in search of better opportunities.

“Many of our fathers were immigrants and came here for a better life,” Sánchez said. “I want to tell the people affected by this situation that they are not alone.”

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