Protest Against ICE Raids, An Act of Love in the Freezing Cold of Boston

Boston, January 28, 2008. The Boston May Day Coalition called for a "speak-out against ICE raids on undocumented migrant workers", in the context of a week of transnational action ending January 26. The International Council of the World Social Forum decided that instead of convening its eighth World Forum this year (2008), it would conduct a global week of action.

Considering the USA’s war against immigrant workers and particularly “undocumented” workers, The Boston May Day Coalition chose to respond to the vicious character of recent raids in the state of Massachusetts. The first massive raid was conducted almost a year ago (in March 2007) by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New Bedford. More desolation and raids in the cities of Nantucket, Chelsea, East Boston, Revere, Somerville and most recently Milford followed this initial raid. The Boston May Day Coalition denounces what appears to be a media strategy to justify ICE raids as a search for “criminals”. The Boston May Day Coalition denounces and condemns all ICE raids against immigrants and calls upon people not to be deceived by this strategy.

As we prepared to go toward the JFK building under sub-freezing temperatures worsened by an implacable wind, we got news that ICE police had raided the headquarters of SEIU 1199 in the city of Hartford, Connecticut. Whatever the circumstances of the raid, and we still await for an official statement by the SEIU union leadership, the fact that ICE has begun raiding unions that they see as sympathetic to undocumented migrant workers must be seen as an escalation in repression and it must be confronted and repudiated.

Thus, on Friday, January 25, nearly 60 people heeded the call to protest the repressive policies of the Bush administration against undocumented workers in the U.S. Given the weather conditions this effort can only be construed as an act of love, humanity and solidarity towards our fellow undocumented workers, who suffer military-style police repression. It was so cold that we were not visited as usual by U.S marshalls or Boston Police. But, there were the young members of the Boston Students for a Democratic Society, our dear friends in the struggle from the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement and the Industrial Workers of the World, members of the Martin Luther King Bolivarian Circle, and people who participated in previous Boston delegations to the World Social Forum, Mass. Global Action, Chelsea United Against the War, the Socialist Workers Party, the International Socialist Organization, and the Socialist Party. Also present were many independent migrant rights advocates.

Special mention must be given to our friends from ROCA, a community youth organization based in Chelsea who attended the protest bringing copies of their latest contribution to the struggle for immigrant rights, a beautiful Spanish-English booklet called "Know Your Rights! How to Protect Yourself in Case of an Immigration Raid". This was an effort of their Immigrant and Refugee Initiative and the booklet is being distributed free to immigrants and immigrant rights advocates.

We were also privileged to have among us a visiting organizer from the Migrant Trade Unions of South Korea, Wol-San Liem. She reported on their work in defense of migrant workers in her country and how the police routinely raids their offices and arrest both migrant workers and advocates. She ratified something that the Boston May Day Coalition has been proposing since its inception: repression and exploitation of migrant workers is not only as U.S. problem, it is an international phenomenon and as such it must be address also in that context.

As I painfully walked towards the subway station, with frozen feet and cramped legs, I thought that our presence there in the streets of Boston under the cold was definitely more than a political expression, an act of love. I also thought whether our undocumented migrant friends ever think about the people in the U.S. and around the world who are on their side, who appreciate them as fellow human beings. I wondered if they ever think about who are in the frontlines in defense of their rights, young anarchists, socialists, communists, and so many good people who stand up to their government in defiance of their repressive policies.

As I made it to the subway station, it took me about 15 minutes to overcome my legs pain and be able to board a train to go back home. Recognizing that my health and age are starting to slow me down, I found solace and comfort in the presence of our young comrades and found hope and strength to continue the struggle. Thank you to all who attended this rally, our small contribution to the transnational struggle for a better world. Another world is possible!

Submitted by Sergio Reyes Boston May Day Coalition
Pictures by Diego Peña