FRAMINGHAM – A couple of hundred residents from Framingham and MetroWest gathered Friday night, July 12, at the Memorial Building to protest the situation at the border, as well as the Trump administration’s immigration policies. It was one of more than 700 Lights for Liberty events held across the country on Friday night.
The event began with remarks from Mayor Yvonne Spicer, who asked the people of Framingham to take a stand against the way that migrant children are being treated. “It’s time we sing in a collective choir: enough is enough!” she said with fervor.
After Mayor Spicer’s speech, Senate President Karen Spilka went up to the podium and told the story of how her grandfather, a Russian immigrant, came to the United States. She concluded her speech by saying that since the United States is a nation of immigrants, we should be welcoming of them, instead of trying to hurt them.
State Representative Maria Robinson and District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard also spoke.
While Robinson asked the public to voice their concerns to her about what should be done to help immigrants, Shepard thanked those who attended. “Each one of you gives us more hope that humanity has not died”, she said getting choked up.
After a reading of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” by three children in three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and English), various religious leaders from the city showed that they stood in solidarity with the families at the border.
But the passionate speeches by immigration lawyers Antonio Massa Viana and Susan Church really moved the crowd. They spoke about how the Trump administration has used certain policies to create fear among immigrants. While Viana called for the citizens of Framingham to support legislation that would protect the rights of the undocumented, such as giving them the ability to get drivers licenses, Church stated that conditions at the border are worse than they were under previous presidents and that it is evidence of the “unbelievable cruelty” of the current administration. “It is 100 percent Donald Trump’s fault,” she said.
The night continued with a few brief remarks from Metrowest Worker Center Director Diego Low, who offered a scathing critique of the administration’s policies and told the audience what services his organization offered to immigrants.
But someone who really struck a chord with the crowd was Angelica, a Guatemalan asylum seeker.
With the help of two translators, Angelica explained how her daughter was separated and detained from her. When the crowd heard the words that the immigration official said to her when they first met, which were “Do you celebrate mothers day in your country? Well, congratulations, tomorrow you won’t see your daughter”, they were appalled and horrified.
Angelica concluded her story by encouraging people to “get close with an immigrant” in order to better understand what they go through. “The thing that we need the most is a friend, an American friend,” she said. “Somebody that can come help us, somebody that can get us through this, and I know that together we can do it.”
The night concluded with the candle lighting ceremony, where there was a moment of silence while a Spanish version of You are My Only Sunshine was quietly sung.
Photos by Susan Petroni/Petroni Media Company for SOURCE ©2019. All Rights Reserved.