Boston's immigrant community took to the streets Thursday morning in protest, less than a day after President Donald Trump vowed to crack down on communities that harbor undocumented immigrants.
Another protest was planned for the afternoon, led by the Service Employees International Union.
Boston and surrounding cities like Cambridge and Somerville offer sanctuary policies that provide protections from deportation to nonviolent, undocumented immigrants who are charged with minor offenses. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to pull federal funding from cities that provide that kind of safe harbor to immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Mayor Marty Walsh and others have vowed to uphold sanctuary policies despite the potential loss of millions in federal aid.
Opponents of sanctuary city provisions contend illegal immigrants place an unnecessary strain on state and federal resources.
But this morning in East Boston, several dozen pro-immigrant demonstrators challenged that notion.
Holding a 20-foot-long banner with the phrase, "Un dia sin inmigrantes," Spanish for, "One day without immigrants," the protestors asked commuters to envision their communities without immigrants.
“If we had a boycott, if we had a general strike … one day without immigrants, what would this country look like?" protest organizerGloribel Mota told The Boston Globe. The group was from the Boston chapter of the CosechaMovement.
There are about 8 million undocumented immigrants working in the U.S., making up about 5 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to Pew Research Center data. If Trump follows through with promises of mass deportations, industries like farming and construction stand to lose 26 percent and 15 percent of workers, respectively.
Another protest, planned for Thursday afternoon, was being organized by the Boston chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which has 18,000 members in the Boston Area.
The event was organized to "protest President Trump’s counterproductive executive actions on immigration," according to the group. The SEIU has more than 163,000 members in 11 states and Washington.
“Trump's counterproductive actions will have tragic implications for hundreds of thousands of hard-working, tax-paying immigrant and American citizens alike.His actions today do nothing more than stir panic and fear in the hearts of millions while encouraging a Wild West vigilante culture among those looking to scapegoat innocent Americans," said Roxana Rivera local union vice president.
Groups across Massachusetts have denounced the order, saying deportation tears families apart and could have a detrimental effect on the economy.
“These executive orders are a direct affront to our nation’s long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees who revitalize and strengthen our communities,” said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Committee. “After less than a week in office, this administration has already signaled to our nation’s immigrants and their children that the promise of the American dream no longer exists.”