EAST BOSTON (CBS) — Members of a group advocating for the rights of immigrants in the U.S. unveiled a protest banner at the entrance to the Sumner Tunnel during the Thursday morning commute.
The 40-foot banner, which was first unfurled on the Porter Street pedestrian bridge above the tunnel and then brought to the Maverick MBTA station, was carried by about 12 members of the Cosecha Movement and reads “Un dia sin immigrantes,” or “A day without immigrants.”
Brenda Villardes, who helped organize the event, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens that the group wanted to send the message that immigrants are vitally important to the country.
“We will resist this anti-immigrant, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric,” she said.
On their Facebook page, the group said the banner was part of a planned “week without immigrants,” meant to demonstrate the ways immigrants contribute to society.
“We are live from East Boston reminding the immigrant community that this country depends on our labour power to be able to function,” the group wrote in a Facebook Live post. “Today more than ever, we know we can’t depend on politicians, that’s why harvest this planning ‘a week without immigrants’ so that the American people wake up and understand that this country depends on us.”
Villardes said the group felt threatened by the two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The orders called for the construction of a border wall with Mexico and the cutoff of federal money to so-called sanctuary cities.
“The last three days, President Trump has launched an attack on immigrants,” she told WBZ-TV’s Nicole Jacobs. “President Trump has taken on a whole other level of disruption in our community.”
In response to those executive orders, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called the orders and the president’s statements “a direct attack on Boston’s people,” 28 percent of whom he said were immigrants, and 48 percent of whom he said had at least one foreign-born parent.
Walsh, as well as Somerville mayor Joe Curtatone, have vowed to protect immigrants in their cities–even if it means losing federal money.
Villardes said that people in the immigrant community know they are the “muscle” of the country.
“We want to bring that back, the idea that if we don’t cooperate, if we don’t go to work, if we don’t go to schools, this country will realize the importance and the value of immigrants,” she said.
The group never blocked traffic during the event.
An immigrant workers’ union will hold a protest at Washington and School Street later Thursday. Over 500 people are expected at that protest.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports