Roughly one hundred people rallied on Friday to protest the Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian migrants.
Elected officials at the city and state level, as well as some contenders for City Council, formed a row by the front door of the JFK Federal Building in downtown Boston, some holding signs that said, “Stop Deportations” and “Haitian Lives Matter.” Both mayoral finalists, City Councillors At-Large Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu, joined the line to voice their support for Haitian refugees seeking asylum in the US.
The rally came days after widely circulated images of US border agents, on horseback and whipping the migrants at the southern border, drew condemnation from all levels of government. The US special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned on Thursday as the deportation efforts continued via plane.
“What I witnessed this week broke my heart,” said state Rep. Brandy Fluker-Oakley, whose Twelfth Suffolk House district includes a large number of Haitians. “It was inhumane and it should not happen at all in 2021.”
The Biden administration “must do better,” she added.
Ruthzee Louijeune, a Haitian-American attorney running for one of the four Boston City Council at-large seats, said, "We are supposed to be a land that welcomes immigrants, but yet we are turning them away every chance that we get."
Representatives from the offices of US Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey also said they backed a halt to the deportations.
Jim Cantwell, Markey’s state director, read from a written statement from Markey, who noted that Haiti has seen earthquakes, hurricanes, and the assassination of its president.
“All of our efforts should be focused on providing humanitarian support and dignity to help our Haitian friends back on their feet,” Markey’s statement said.
The rally drew members of SEIU 1199, the healthcare workers union, as well as former Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who was spotted in the crowd.
The rally's attendees included state Rep. Liz Miranda; City Councillors Andrea Campbell, Michael Flaherty, Ed Flynn, Ricardo Arroyo, and Julia Mejia; and City Council candidates Evandro Carvalho and David Halbert. Democratic candidate for governor Ben Downing also stood in support of Haitian immigrants.