News & Media Coverage

Brockton Faith Group Speaks Out Against Deportations of Undocumented Immigrants

September 10, 2013  |  The Brockton Enterprise  |  Link to article

By Morgan True
Posted Sep 10, 2013 @ 06:01 AM
Last update Sep 10, 2013 @ 05:54 PM

Local activists are joining a loosely affiliated national movement to stop deportations they say are breaking apart families in the city’s immigrant community and beyond.

“A lot of the people who are being detained and awaiting deportations have families,” said Filipe Mizhirunday, 30, an Ecuadorian immigrant and volunteer with the Brockton Interfaith Community. “I don’t think deporting the parents is the solution.”

When deportations happen, immigrant children born in the U.S. are either separated from a parent or forced to leave for a country where they’ve never lived and in most cases never visited, Mizhirunday said.

At an event Saturday, members of BIC teamed up with the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church to do education and outreach around deportations and other political issues relevant to the city’s Latino immigrant community.

A predominantly Ecuadorian crowd of more than 100 gathered at James Edgar Park, just south of downtown, to celebrate their shared culture and listen to appeals for greater political involvement from their ranks.

Speakers urged undocumented members of the immigrant community not to remain silent when a family member or loved one is detained.

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency claims most of the undocumented immigrants being deported are criminals or threaten public safety, said Janine Carreiro, executive director of BIC, but in practice many of the deported are upstanding and active members of their communities.

If their families come forward, Carreiro said, volunteers can organize campaigns to pressure elected officials to intervene in specific cases.

It’s a strategy that has worked elsewhere in the country. Community groups have stopped deportations by rallying public support around individuals who have compelling cases to remain in the country, Carreiro said.

By amassing letters from clergy, employers, community leaders and appealing to local and national elected representatives for support, ICE will in some cases grant a stay of deportation, she explained.

Saturday’s event was also an opportunity to gather signatures for the minimum wage and earned sick time ballot initiatives. Many immigrants work low-wage jobs and the community is a prime constituency for the effort to change labor practices statewide.