When they came for me

Now that the Massachusetts Legislature has sold out immigrants, it seemed like a good time to affirm our responsibilities for one another and to our own liberties. Several friends have mentioned this poem in recent weeks (I wonder why?). There have been many versions of this but the martin-niemoeller-stiftung.de identifies this as the first:

Als sie mich holten

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen,
ich war ja kein Kommunist.
When the Nazis came for the Communists,
I was silent,
I was not a Communist.
Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen,
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
When they locked up the Socialists,
I was silent,
I was not a Socialist.
Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich geschwiegen,
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.
When they came for the unionists,
I was silent,
I was not a trade unionist.
Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr,
der protestieren konnte.
When they came for me
there was no one left
who could protest.

— Martin Niemoller


Democrats did this

Today Marion Davis of MIRA issued a press release announcing that the Democratic-majority legislature had abdicated moral leadership by stripping four immigrant protection provisions from the 2019 budget. It echoed U.S. Congressional Democrats doing much the same thing last January. Sacrificing immigrants for budgets is becoming a Democratic habit.

In MIRA’s press release, Eva A. Millona, executive director of the MIRA Coalition, was quoted:

“We are deeply disappointed. The Massachusetts Legislature had a prime opportunity to stand up for civil rights and human decency, and under political pressure from Governor Baker and conservative Democrats, it backed down. The safety and well-being of tens of thousands of immigrant families will suffer as a result.”

Democrats did this.

“It is particularly disturbing that the Legislature succumbed to fear-mongering about ‘sanctuary’ policies. Though nothing in the four provisions approved by the Senate actually met the definition of ‘sanctuary’ used by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, prominent House members embraced nativist propaganda misrepresenting those provisions, using the falsehoods as political cover for their inaction.”

Democrats did this.

“We find it shocking that, with this agreement, the Legislature has tacitly accepted the notion that police should be able to ask people who ‘look foreign’ to show their papers before they can report a crime, and that immigrants should be kept in the dark about their legal rights, so it’s easier to deport them. The Legislature couldn’t even agree that Massachusetts should never contribute to a Muslim registry. That is stunning and embarrassing.”

Democrats did this.

“Our country faces an existential crisis, and in the face of horrific abuses by the federal government, it is morally imperative for states to act to protect their most vulnerable residents. By failing to pass the Safe Communities Act, and now failing to pass even basic legal protections, the Legislature has abdicated its moral leadership, and failed a large share of its constituents.”

Instead, the Massachusetts House chose expediency and making a Republican governor happy.

Democrats had better fix this.


At the national level Democrats may be forgiven for doing little for DACA and TPS recipients or for immigration reform in general. But, in a majority Democratic state like Massachusetts, there is no excuse for the legislature dragging its heels on reasonable immigrant protections called for by the party’s own platform. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has repeatedly manipulated and maneuvered to shelve bills and limit votes on immigration, and now he’s trying to strip immigrant protection provisions from the FY2019 budget.

Of course we can’t blame it all on DeLeo — who now has exhausted every last cent of his political capital with progressives. House Democrats can’t — and shouldn’t — hide behind the Speaker forever. Ultimately they will be held to personal account. Too many members of the State House sound like Republicans in their willingness to “go along to get along” with cruel attacks on undocumented families. It’s simply hypocrisy for Massachusetts Democrats to chastise Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell for their lack of spine when they themselves are guilty of the same.

Last year I attended the Massachusetts Democratic convention in Worcester, at which a new party platform was drafted. Among the hollow declarations of resistance and highfalutin but ultimately meaningless verbiage added to the platform were planks calling for a living wage and sensible immigration polices.

It was left to groups like RaiseUp to fight to get living wages on the November ballot because Democrats themselves didn’t find it important enough. And even though the state party’s platform calls for immigrant protections, these proved to be hollow promises as well:

  • “Becoming a sanctuary state, where all immigrants and refugees feel welcome and safe in all communities of the Commonwealth.”
  • “Eliminating policies that make local and state officials responsible for the enforcement of national immigration laws.”

For many of us the MassDems platform has no value other than to document the hollowness of a party whose real-life politicians have no intention of standing by the party’s professed values.

Representatives, start acting like Democrats. Ultimately voters are going to look at your positions and voting record, not Speaker DeLeo’s. Do the right thing. Stand up for the principles we voted for last year. Stand up for some of the state’s most vulnerable people. Show some backbone. Defy the Speaker. Keep immigration protections in the budget.

Bowed Heads to Raised Fists

Yesterday I attended a “Families Belong Together” rally in New Bedford, one of hundreds of similar events taking place nationwide. Between 400-500 people attended, overflowing into the balcony at the Bethel AME Chuch on County Street. It was good to see friends, neighbors, my sister-in-law, and to hear heartfelt expressions of concern for detained children and famillies. It was a tangible reminder that we — our undocumented friends included — are all members of a single community. It was also an affirmation of our responsibility for one another.

Over the years I’ve been to a number of events like this, often following something horrible — mass shootings, acts of hate, threats to civil liberties. Now it’s the Federal government caging children. Over the years I’ve noticed the same concerned citizens meeting as one, praying as one, the same clergy bowing their heads in unity, making the same reassurances, hearing the same exhortations from politicians and community leaders. There’s a “feel good” aspect to it all that disturbs me. Why aren’t people marching in the streets? Why aren’t there fewer bowed heads and more raised fists?

To be sure, the good friends of immigrants showed up and were counted. Reverend Sharyn Halliday and the Bethel AME Church cared enough to host the event. Community, union and faith leaders lined the pews. New Bedford House Representative Tony Cabral brought a daughter with every reason to be proud of her dad. New Bedford City Council member Dana Ribeiro spoke warmly to her city, and Brockton Council member Jean Bradley Derenoncourt delivered a moving appeal for America to keep faith with those who arrive here just looking to survive. The Coalition for Social Justice’s Maria Fortes pressed for House adoption of Senate Amendment #1147 — immigrant protections being now considered in conference by the House.

But the event did not reflect well on an overwhelmingly blue Massachusetts House that refused to vote on the Safe Communities Act and on Congressional Democrats who have done little for TPS and DACA recipients (both of whom were present yesterday). With the exception of Tony Cabral, not one other state representative bothered to show up at the New Bedford rally. And the lone U.S. Congressman who spoke should never have been invited.

Bill Keating (MA-09) gave an energetic shirtsleeve speech — all clenched fists and outrage at the Trump administration’s caging of six year-olds. The problem with Keating’s performance was not its dramatic fist-pumping; it was the hypocrisy. Keating has voted repeatedly for GOP anti-immigrant bills. H.R.3009 punished Sanctuary Cities. H.R.4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, restricted absorption of Syrian refugees. H.R.3004, “Kate’s Law,” took a hard line against desperate people who re-enter the United States. And Keating’s “On the Issues” statement on immigration reads like it was written by Jeff Sessions himself:

“Bill Keating opposes amnesty. As a District Attorney, Bill Keating enforces our laws and believes that everyone must obey them. His office has prosecuted thousands of criminal cases that resulted in defendants being detained for immigration and deportation action. Bill believes that we must secure our borders, and wants to punish and stop corporations that hire workers here illegally. Bill does not support giving people who are here illegally access to state and federal benefits.”

Toward the end of the rally a group of local children recited ‘families deserve to stay together” in multiple languages, sweetly honoring children now sitting in ICE and CPB cages. With the event ending, clergy lined up awkwardly, a long interfaith blessing was delivered, and attendees filed outside into the hot summer air.

Our answer to hate

This my last appeal for citizens to advocate for protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget. Originally proposed as Budget Amendment #1147 by Senator James Eldridge, these protections have been incorporated into Senate Bill S.2530 and are now in conference with the House. Call your State House Representative to ask them to support immigrant family protections. What’s happening in Washington should terrify and motivate state House Democrats to support such protections. This should be our answer to hate.

Here’s why the protections are so important

The Supreme Court just ruled in favor of Trump’s Muslim Ban. An ACLU petition asks Congress to pass legislation to block racist exclusions like this. While a ban is not the same thing as a registry, we don’t yet know how Trump’s Muslim Ban will affect citizens of the Muslim-majority countries who live in Massachusetts, whether CPB, ICE, or DHS will ask the Commonwealth to help track these Muslim neighbors — or if the occasional law enforcement official might have personal motivations to share data with ICE without authorization.

  • Protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget bar the Commonwealth from cooperating with such registries.

Trump’s deportation machine is abusing families and children in shockingly cruel ways. Elizabeth Warren has a lengthy report on her visit to a McAllen, Texas Border Patrol facility where she was horrified by the treatment of incarcerated children. A report issued recently describes racially-motivated abuses of detainees in ICE facilities, including the Bristol County House of Correction. Last week it was reported that the Boston Public Schools took it upon themselves to share data with ICE, and on the Cape high school students were reported to ICE by guidance counselors for supposed gang affiliations simply because they spoke Spanish. This insanity must end. Let police deal with real criminals and end vigilantism.

  • Protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget prevent state officials from being used as federal agents. Only the Massachusetts Department of Corrections will be able to fulfill some of these federal immigration functions.

Customs and Border Patrol is stopping vehicles on parts of I-93 and demanding that passengers produce proof of citizenship. Warrantless stops with requests for “papers!” is creepy and totalitarian enough without state and local police being enlisted in violations of the Fourth Amendment. Even with the 100-mile border “loophole,” many of these stops are unconstitutional. Let’s affirm that, at least in Massachusetts, a “nation of laws” requires warrants and probable cause to stop people.

  • Protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget define strict rules under which police officers can ask about immigration status and require training on the law for all officers.

Read about these provisions yourself. Despite malicious misinformation, these provisions do not prevent police from arresting real criminals. They do make Massachusetts a lot safer for everyone and strengthen Constitutional protections many of us can still remember once having.

Call your State House Representative to ask them to support protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget.

This is a moral issue

Dear Friends, once again I am forwarding information on how you can support Budget Amendment #1147, which offers four important protections to Massachusetts immigrants in the face of inhuman and immoral federal policies. There are many political issues where constituents and legislators may agree to disagree on details and nuance. This is not one of them. This is a moral issue where your legislator will either demonstrate s/he has human compassion and will bravely do the right thing. Or not.

Dear Safe Communities endorsers and supporters:

The momentum is building. The horrific situation at the border has put the plight of immigrant families at the top of the news, and mobilized people who don’t normally take to the streets for immigrant rights. We have a lot of people on our side – and we need to mobilize them to support our campaign. Please share this widely across your networks!

Over the weekend, we asked you to ask your networks to email Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Sánchez and your own Representatives highlighting the family separations crisis and urging them to act to protect immigrant families in Massachusetts. Here’s our agenda for this week:

  1. Keep those emails coming – but during business hours, let’s focus on phone calls! We’re targeting Speaker DeLeo (617-722-2500) and individual Reps (find yours at http://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator). See scripts at the end of this email.
  2. If you’re on Facebook and/or Twitter, keep hitting the Speaker, Chairman Sánchez and your legislators with calls to action. Sample posts are at the end of this email.
  3. After two very successful, back-to-back protests at the State House last week, we want to turn up the heat even more with another demonstration THIS WEDNESDAY. We’re meeting on the State House steps at 12:30 pm and going in together at 1 pm to make some noise outside the House Chamber.

We’re lining up several speakers, with a focus on immigrants who can speak from experience, and we’re hoping for a big, visible crowd (we already have 200+ RSVPs). The message: In the face of horrific federal actions, Massachusetts MUST act ASAP to protect immigrant families! The Senate passed a budget amendment with 4 basic protections from the Safe Communities Act. House, now it’s YOUR turn. Step up and show you have moral courage and principles!

Sign up here, share on your FB feed and/or Twitter, and bring colorful signs! We’ll be making some for printing, but homemade are best! Remember to make it through security, they can’t have any sticks on them, and you have to be able to stuff them in a folder or backpack, or roll them up.

  1. Also on Wednesday: Lobby Day #3. We need representatives of organizations to join us for another lobby day from 11 am to 1 pm. (You can join the rally after!) Meet at 11 am in Room 109 for materials and lobbying targets (2 right turns after security at Beacon Street entrance). If you are unaffiliated with an organization, team up with others who are, or visit your own Rep! RSVP to Charlotte Boghossian at cboghossian@charlesgroupconsulting.com with subject line: SCA Lobby Day June 20.
  2. Next full coalition call is THIS FRIDAY, 1 pm. Use the Conference Line: (218) 895-6184, passcode: 6472#.

One last thing: We’ve heard from some of you about the messaging advice provided in Saturday’s email. To be clear, the Safe Communities Act – and our support for comprehensive legislation to protect immigrants in Massachusetts – is what brings us all together. That is what we want, and we have many legislators who support us.

But right now, our campaign has a narrower focus: to pass the 4 SCA provisions that the Senate adopted in the FY2019 budget. For legislators who are on the fence, and for Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Sánchez, passing the whole SCA, in the budget or separately, this year is a non-starter. For them, our messaging advice emphasizes that this is a compromise. This is the absolute least that you can do for immigrant families.

We’re a broad and diverse coalition, and each of us will formulate our message in our own way. But that’s why we recommended what we did.

Thanks to all of you for everything you’re doing to make it absolutely unbearable for the House to sit on their hands! Hey, even Charlie Baker had to backtrack today, embarrassed to be helping out at the border.

See you at the State House!

On behalf of the SCA Steering Committee,

– Amy & Marion

Sample call script for your Rep:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what Rep. [ name ] is doing about it. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet, and we’re almost out of time.

Will you commit to fighting to ensure those immigrant protections make it into the final budget? I’m counting on you. Thank you!

Sample call script for Speaker DeLeo:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what the House is going to do about this. I called my Rep, but I know that any decision is really up to leadership. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet.

We’re almost out of time. Will you commit to including those immigrant protections in the final budget? The people of Massachusetts are counting on you. Thank you!

Sample tweets and Facebook posts:

Note: For Facebook posts, just omit the handles and hashtags (you can use #FamiliesNotFear on FB too, but hashtags are more of a Twitter thing). All of these can be directed at @SpeakerDeLeo and @Jeffrey_Sanchez too (tag 1, 2 or both + your Rep at once).

Immigrant families are being torn apart, and Mass. sheriffs are helping??? @YourRepsHandle put a stop to this ASAP! Make sure FY2019 state budget includes basic protections for immigrants! #FamiliesNotFear https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2018/06/14/modest-immigration-reforms-mass-could-send-powerful-message/wnGpYDUZ6w1gy8iZ9QUPcL/story.html

Then they came for the #immigrants… and Massachusetts did NOTHING? @YourRepsHandle it’s well past time to protect our families! Include basic provisions from #SafeCommunitiesAct in the FY2019 budget!

Families aren’t just being torn apart at the border – @ICEgov does it in Mass. communities every day. @YourRepsHandle, will you pledge to protect immigrants in the FY2019 budget? #FamiliesNotFear
[ this one goes really well with the ACLU video below ]

Some more helpful links to include in emails and post on social media:

Or check out the @MIRACoalition feed on Twitter for lots of material on family separations, or @ProgressiveMass for lots of call-to-action posts.

Read it yourself

Two-thirds of the Senate voted to add Amendment #1147 to the FY2019 budget, which will shortly go to a House vote as part of the reconciliation process. The usual suspects — Sheriff Tom Hodgson and his friends from FAIR and the Mass Fiscal Alliance — have resorted to lying about the amendment’s provisions. But there is nothing in the amendment preventing officers of the law from doing their jobs.

Massachusetts voters should be paying attention to how House representatives vote. The public is not as dumb as opponents of the amendment think it is. Anyone can read the text of the amendment. Let your House representative know you’ve done so.

Budget Amendment ID: FY2019-S4-1147

EPS 1147


Messrs. Eldridge and Lewis, Ms. L’Italien, Mr. Brownsberger, Ms. Friedman, Ms. Jehlen, Messrs. Hinds and Barrett, Ms. Chang-Diaz, Mr. Crighton, Ms. Creem, Messrs. DiDomenico, Boncore, Welch, Cyr and Lesser, Ms. O’Connor Ives and Mr. Collins moved that the proposed new text be amended by adding the following:

SECTION XX. Chapter 147 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 63. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

“Civil immigration detainer request”, any request by a federal immigration officer authorized under 8 C.F.R. section 287.7 or by any other authorized party, including any request made using federal form I-247A, I-247D or I-247N, asking a non-federal law enforcement agency, officer or employee to maintain custody of a person once that person is released from local custody or to notify the United States Department of Homeland Security of the person’s release.

“Law enforcement agency”, any state, municipal, college or university police department, sheriff’s department, correctional facility, prosecutorial office, court, or program of one or more of the foregoing entities, or any other non-federal entity in the commonwealth charged with the enforcement of laws or the custody of detained persons.

“United States Department of Homeland Security”, the United States Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs and Border Protection, and any other federal agency charged with the enforcement of immigration laws.

Police only inquire about immigration status when the law requires it

(b) No officer or employee of a law enforcement agency, while acting under color of law, shall inquire about the immigration status of an individual unless such inquiry is required by federal or state law; provided that a judge or magistrate may make such inquiries as are necessary to adjudicate matters within their jurisdiction.

Police will be trained on the requirements of this law

(c) All law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth shall, within 12 months of passage of this act, incorporate information regarding lawful and unlawful inquiries about immigration status into their regular introductory and in-service training programs. If a law enforcement agency receives a complaint or report that an officer or employee has inquired about an individual’s immigration status when such inquiry is not required by law, the agency shall investigate and take appropriate disciplinary or other action.

A detained person must be provided a copy of his detainer

(d) If a law enforcement agency has in its custody a person who is the subject of a civil immigration detainer request or a non-judicial warrant, the agency shall promptly provide the person, and his or her attorney if the person is represented by an attorney, with a copy of such detainer request or non-judicial warrant, and any other documentation the agency possesses pertaining to the person’s immigration case.

DHS interviews require consent and preserve the right to an attorney

(e) An interview between a United States Department of Homeland Security agent and a person in the custody of a law enforcement agency conducted for immigration enforcement purposes shall take place only if the person in custody has given consent to the interview by signing a consent form that explains the purpose of the interview, that the interview is voluntary, and that the person may decline to be interviewed or may choose to be interviewed only with an attorney present. The consent form shall be prepared by the office of the attorney general and made available to law enforcement agencies in English and other languages commonly spoken in Massachusetts. The office of the attorney general may work with interested not-for-profit organizations to prepare translations of the written consent form. The law enforcement agency shall make best efforts to provide a consent form that is in a language that the person understands, and to provide interpretation if needed, to obtain the person’s informed consent.

(f) If the person in custody indicates that he or she wishes to have an attorney present for the interview, the law enforcement agency shall allow him or her to contact such attorney, and in the case that no attorney can be present, the interview shall not take place; provided, however, that the law enforcement agency shall not be responsible for the payment of the person’s attorney’s fees and expenses.

State employees may not be used as federal immigration officers

SECTION XX. Chapter 126 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 40. Agreements to Enforce Federal Law.

No officer or employee of any agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, with the exception of the department of correction, shall perform the functions of an immigration officer, whether pursuant to 8 U.S.C. section 1357(g) or any other law, regulation, or policy, whether formal or informal. Any agreements inconsistent with this section are null and void.

No cooperation with a federal “Muslim” or other registry

SECTION XX. Chapter 30 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 66. (a) Under no circumstances shall the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, establish any operation or program that requires, or has the effect of causing, persons to register or check in based in whole or in part on their religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, or maintain any records system, government file or database for the purpose of registering persons based in whole or in part on those categories.

(b) In the event that any federal government operation or program requires, or has the effect of causing, persons to register or check in based in whole or in part on their religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, including but not limited to any such operation or program created pursuant to 8 United States Code, sections 1302(a) and 1303(a):

(1) no resources of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof shall be expended in the enforcement or implementation of such registry or check-in program;

(2) no employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall access, or seek to access, any information maintained pursuant to such registry or check-in program; and

(3) no employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall provide or disclose or offer to provide or disclose information to, or respond to a request for information from, such registry or check-in program.

(c) This section shall not apply to any government operation or program that: (1) merely collects and compiles data about nationals of a foreign country entering or exiting the United States; or (2) issues visas, grants United States citizenship, confers an immigration benefit, or temporarily or permanently protects noncitizens from removal.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit or restrain the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, from sending to, or receiving from, any local, state, or federal agency, information regarding citizenship or immigration status, consistent with Section 1373 of Title 8 of the United States Code.