As a granddaughter of immigrants from Armenia, Ireland, and Italy, I stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities, recognizing we are made up of many different countries of origin.

Our country (and our Commonwealth) is made stronger by the contributions of our immigrant residents and we must pass responsible reforms to protect these gains.

Homeland Security’s field office for Boston’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), is right next door in Burlington. I was there to protest the Trump administration’s immigration detention and deportation agenda, because it aggressively targets people and families, separating them regardless of how long they’ve lived in the country.

Under the current Republican administration, ICE is aggressively targeting not only violent criminals, but also low-level offenders and those with outstanding deportation orders, regardless of how long they’ve lived here, which, by the way, are civil infractions, not criminal ones.

We need immigration reform in this country.

We need policy that puts people and families first.

We must protect the civil rights of all our residents, which is why I support the Safe Communities Act (SCA) here in Massachusetts.

Key provisions of the SCA protect civil liberties of the undocumented who live, work, and travel in our state. It protects due process and will not keep police from investigating crimes or prosecuting anyone who commits a crime, nor will it stop police from collaborating with federal agencies, including ICE, as part of any criminal investigation.

Without trust and good communication, undocumented people won’t feel safe to report crime or contact the police, for fear of being arrested or detained.

We need trust between residents and police department staff for improved public safety for all in our communities. The SCA proposal would keep communities welcoming, inclusive, and safe for all people, regardless of their immigration status.

During this pandemic, even as we work to make sure our government does its part, some urgent, critical needs are going unfilled. Our state’s hundred of thousands of undocumented workers is one group of people who will not benefit from virtually any of the government programs assisting people who have lost wages as a result of the Governor’s emergency declaration, resulting in work and business closures.

I recognize there are numerous organizations in need of financial support to provide vital services at this time. One program that is providing direct cash assistance to undocumented people is the Mass UndocuFund. I’m making a modest donation; please join me in giving whatever you can to help them with their work.

A version of this post was previously given as public testimony at Lexington 2018 Annual Town Meeting.

Featured image, from the Ajemian family collection: My great-grandparents, Balthazar Ajemian and Rose Iskandarian, with their children Nubar, David, Blanche, and my granddaddy Charles.

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