MASSACHUSETTS, USA – Chanting “education, not deportation,” hundreds of professors, students, and staff of Harvard and Boston universities marched outside the gates of Harvard in Cambridge on Thursday afternoon, September 7 (early Friday morning, Manila) to denounce the Trump administration’s decision to end an amnesty that protects young immigrants in the country.
The protest, which began with fiery speeches from students and professors inside the campus and followed by a march outside, was marked by the arrest of more than a dozen protesters after they briefly barricaded a portion of Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, right outside Harvard’s Johnson Gate.
Among those arrested was Reverend Jonathan Walton, a minister at the Memorial Church and a Harvard professor.
“We are here to say to the US president and all insecure leaders that no human being is illegal,” Walton told the crowd during a short program before he was brought to a police van along with other protesters. He accused US President Donald Trump of using young immigrants as “scapegoats” for his insecurity.
Police said the arrests were made because the protesters’ human barricade blocked traffic. “It’s not because of the content of your rally,” a policeman told the crowd.
The Harvard Crimson said more than 20 of those arrested were professors from Harvard and other universities in the Boston area. Quoting Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Jeremy Warnick, the Crimson said the arraignment will take place on Friday, September 8 (Saturday in Manila), and that bail will be at $40.
Ahmed Ragab, a professor at Harvard’s Divinity School who was also at the rally, noted the irony of his presence since he had just come from a most important appointment on Thursday: his oath-taking as an American citizen.
“I took my oath today as a citizen, but my students are not allowed to do the same. We stand here today because we want to shout that no one is illegal,” Ragab told the crowd. “We regret the misguided discourse that vilifies their parents.”
Rosa Vazquez, a Harvard sophomore from Mexico, proclaimed to the crowd that she is undocumented and is not ashamed of it. “We are not leaving. We are not afraid, because we matter,” she said.
The protesters chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here!”
Up to 800,000 young immigrants face deportation in the US after President Donald Trump ended on September 5 an amnesty program set by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
The move is expected to affect thousands of Filipino immigrants who have been granted protection by the program.
Genevieve Clutario, a Filipino history professor at Harvard, joined the march with her son and other Filipinos. “I am here to support DACA,” she said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which was implemented 5 years ago to help bring the children of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows of illegality, permitting them to study and work without fear. – Rappler.com
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