The atmosphere was fervent in one corner of the Boston Common Friday evening. Hundreds gathered outside the Massachusetts State House protesting Governor Baker’s opposition to allow Syrian refugees into the state.
“I think Gov. Baker has made a serious error here. We’re a fairly progressive state and willing to welcome anyone who wants to come here,” says Matthew Dill of Charlestown.
People on the Common held up handmade signs with messages like, “My grandma was a refugee” and “Don’t give into racist fear, refugees are welcome here.”
The Obama administration has pledged to take in 10,000 of the millions fleeing Syria over the next year. Although the decision about the intake is made at the federal level, last Monday, Baker announced that he needed to learn a lot more about the federal vetting process before allowing the Syrians refugees to come in to the state.
“The refugee process is incredibly intensive and takes 18 to 24 months. We have one of the most strict processes of vetting refugees in the world, and Governor Baker saying what he did is just fear-mongering. I think that it’s meant to put fear in to the people who live here. It’s not who we are, that doesn’t represent us,” said Laura Ciccone of Roxbury.
At the top of the stairs opposite the State House, Syrian-Americans and others from different refugee organizations spoke of the injustice being doled out to refugees and the fear being insinuated by policy makers.
“It’s really unfortunate. What we’re seeing right now is fear mongering at its worst. After the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston showed the world that we came together stronger than ever, and it’s unfortunate that the policy makers are now going backwards, taking the wrong road,” says Firas Naji, a Syrian-American doctor who was a first responder at the Boston marathon.