On January 25, 2017, just hours after President Donald Trump issued his first executive orders that would have major ramifications on our nation’s immigrant communities, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh addressed his constituents in a press conference.
“I am deeply disturbed by today’s news,” he said from Boston City Hall. “We will not back down from our values that make us who we are as a city. We will fight for our residents, whether immigrant or not, and provide the best quality of life for all Bostonians. I will use all of my power within lawful means to protect all Boston residents – even if that means using City Hall itself as a last resort.”
Since that day, Mayor Walsh’s office has continued to work hard to both grow existing initiatives and to build new programs to protect the rights of the immigrant communities of Boston. While there is no uniform definition for a Sanctuary City, Boston maintains policies, practices, and aspirations that assert its position as a welcoming, inclusive, and compassionate city. In 2014, the Boston Trust Act, which limits voluntary cooperation by local police with immigration detainers, was unanimously passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Walsh. Mayor Walsh and his staff participate in efforts to express solidarity and support for immigrants, such as the recent #ToImmigrantsWithLove campaign. This spring, the Office of Social Emotional Learning & Wellness of Boston Public Schools will be offering five professional development sessions for educators on Stress in Students and Its Impact on Learning, with a focus on immigrant and refugee issues.
Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) has led some of Mayor Walsh’s initiatives in response to the executive orders. Recently, the Office launched a partnership with the PAIR Project to organize “Know Your Rights” presentations across the city, directed at both community members and service providers alike. These presentations are an offshoot of previous presentations to prevent immigration scams.
In April 2016, MOIA collaborated with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Boston Public Library (BPL), the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), community partners, and Citi Community Development to launch Immigrant Information Corners in all 24 public library branches to provide information about citizenship, financial empowerment information, and other public and community resources. Four locations now feature programs involving citizenship applications and income tax filings, and there are plans to expand the corners to the City’s community centers.
Volunteer immigration lawyers continue to provide individual consultations on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at City Hall.
On February 28th, Mayor Walsh and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center co-hosted a community forum on immigrant and refugee issues attended by hundreds of residents, including many City Officials. The forum was the first in a series throughout the City’s neighborhoods. Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Dr. Tommy Chang took the opportunity to reiterate the School Department’s support for all students and their families, regardless of immigration status, and to share a newly launched resource website called BPS: We Dream Together.
As a new revised executive order on immigration is reportedly on the horizon, the Mayor’s office remains committed to similar events and projects designed to protect and inform the city’s immigrant populations.
“Preventing people from entering this country based solely on faith runs counter to everything we stand for as Americans,” said Mayor Walsh. “Let’s be clear: this is not an effective way to combat terrorism and increase homeland security. It is a reckless policy that is rooted in fear, not substance, and further divides us as a nation and a world. It is simply morally wrong. As Americans, we must move forward together as a country proud of our diverse heritage, and find real solutions to the challenges we face.”
For more information contact
Ân H. Lê, firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy and Communications Advisor
Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement