By Amanda Lucidi
BU News Service
Somerville residents and officials reaffirmed the community’s support for its immigrant families at the Sanctuary City Rally on Saturday morning.
“Let’s be clear, Somerville will remain a sanctuary city. We will not turn our backs on our neighbors, we will not tear families apart solely because of their legal status, and we will not violate the Constitution of the United States of America and hold anyone without just cause,” Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said.
Curtatone reassured residents that Somerville would not waver regarding its status as a sanctuary city despite Trump’s threat to cut off federal aid, which would result in a loss of at least $6 million dollars.
“We will also not support the demonization of those who are here without legal status, or immigrants who love this country as much as you and I, or as much as you, President Trump,” Curatone said.
He led the crowd in a cheer yelling, “this is what community looks like!”
Among those who spoke at the rally were immigrant students and their teachers at Somerville High School.
“Every day they amaze and inspire me. These are kids who came here by themselves, literally walked across countries. They continue to struggle and fight because they believe in their dream,” Jamal Halawa, a Somerville teacher said.
Students shared their experiences about living in the U.S. compared to their native countries. Many spoke about their dreams of building a better life for themselves and how they are maintaining hope during a time of uncertainty about their futures.
“Getting refuge in the United States was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life. All of us together, we can make a great impact now and for the future,” Mahammadou said. Mahammadou is a Muslim, high school student and a refugee.
Other residents are hopeful as well, feeling that the turnout at the rally is an indicator of the support that the community will sustain over the next four years.
“I think it shows people aren’t just going to sit back and take what this character dishes out to us. I’m still shaking my head. I hope we can act as a buffer,” Inez Benichasa, a Somerville resident, said.
Nick Ring, who is also a Somerville resident, spoke about how important he thinks diversity is to our culture and came to the rally to support its place in his community.
“I generally find when you have bubbles of certain types of people that don’t intermingle, it can produce a sort of cultural stagnation,” Ring said. “I think that people who may feel disenfranchised will come out here and see the amount of support they have. It’s tangible, you can reach out and touch it.”
Curtatone reminded the city that Somerville has been a sanctuary city since 1987, and encouraged the community to stay informed and active.
“Arm yourselves with knowledge and get to work. This is not a political challenge; this is a challenge of our human compassion— a true test of the human spirit,” Curtatone said. “I can’t guarantee to you, our friends and our neighbors, that nothing is going to happen to you. But we’ve got to guarantee that we can stand up for each other.”