Sen. Markey, Rep. Kennedy oppose stepped-up deportations
BOSTON — Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy are using their family histories to push back against plans for stepped-up deportations of people in the country illegally.
Kennedy, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, said his family fled Ireland for many of the reasons that immigrants are continuing to seek refuge in the Unites States. He said he opposed the rewrite of immigration enforcement policies announced Tuesday by Republican President Donald Trump's administration.
Kennedy, a Democrat, addressed immigrant rights supporters gathered at the Boston Irish Famine Memorial downtown.
"I say this to you in the shadow of these statues, a memorial for the reason why my family came to this country, the abject failure of government to provide for their basic needs. And I say this hours after a new immigration policy that was announced that targets children the same way it targets hardened criminals," Kennedy said. "I say this knowing that whatever your name is — Ramirez, Gutierrez, Walsh, Kennedy or Trump — we are all families of immigrants."
Markey, also a Democrat, said his grandparents moved to the U.S. from Ireland seeking a new life. He said the country must remain a welcoming place for the newest immigrants.
"We have to make sure that we fight so that the immigrants who have come to America in this era have the same opportunity for those children that were provided to the Markey family, to the Kennedy family," he said.
Any immigrant who is in the country illegally and is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority, according to Department of Homeland Security memos signed by Secretary John Kelly. That could include people arrested for shoplifting or minor offenses.
During the campaign, Trump promised to strictly enforce immigration laws.
Markey said one outcome of Trump's efforts to ramp up deportations will be to discourage those immigrants from working with their local police departments, allowing criminals and drug dealers to thrive.
"What he said today was that they're going to implement a new policy that will make it a new crime to be driving while an immigrant in this country," Markey said.
Markey, who just returned from a trip to Mexico and the Mexico-U.S. border, said the real alternative to a border wall is to work more closely with Mexico and immigrants, adding that the "biggest industry in the era of an 18-foot wall is a 19-foot ladder."
Among those attending the rally was Sadia Mohamed, who fled war in her home country of Sudan to become a naturalized citizen. She now works at Logan International Airport, lives in Chelsea and has cared for six children, including five orphans.
"I can't believe it. We are here. We are hard workers. We are happy here. It doesn't make sense at all," she said. "We are not criminals. We are working hard for our kids' future."
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