Hundreds rally in support of Maine immigrants

Hundreds rally in support of Maine immigrants

More than two hundred Mainers braved the soggy weather to stand together in Congress Square Park in Portland against an escalating attacks on immigrants by the Trump administration. The event was part of a nationwide day of action organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement with rallies and marches planned in 42 cities and 21 states.

“We are gathered here – along with thousands of people in cities across the country – to demonstrate the power, resilience and strength of immigrant communities in America,” said Magnifique Butoto, an organizer with the Maine People’s Alliance. “Raids on immigrant families are escalating. Mothers who have been here for over a decade have been ripped from the arms of their children. Immigrants with legal status have been unlawfully detained. We are here today to say this is unacceptable. Keeping families together is an American value that must continue to be defended!”

There have been at least two recent instances of Maine residents detained by immigration officials since the Trump administration ramped up deportation raids. The event comes after a Federal District Court Judge temporarily blocked Trump’s executive order forcing cities to comply with immigration officials or face the loss of federal funding.

Members of Maine’s immigrant community voiced fears about the uncertainty that the Trump administration has created around immigration policy.

“While I was waiting for my citizenship status, I was not afraid of being arrested or deported,” said Francine Ngabnu, President of the Association for New Mainers, who came to Maine as an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Today I’m a permanent resident, but I don’t feel safe to travel out of the the country to see family because I don’t know what will happen to immigrants or immigration policies at any moment.”

Speakers called on Maine’s congressional delegation to support proactive policies to protect families from deportation and ensure a pathway to citizenship, including the BRIDGE Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide temporary protection from deportation, as well as work authorization, for undocumented youth (DREAMers) brought to America as children.

“Our dreamers live in fear of deportation. This is intolerable. Hate and Fear are not Maine values,” said Marie Follayttar Smith of Mainers for Accountable Leadership. “Today we call upon our congressional delegation to stand with the dreamers, stand with Mainers and co-sponsor the Bridge Act.”

“In the end it’s not just about fighting back against Trump’s dangerous policies. It’s also about coming together and demanding real, humane immigration reform that keeps families together and creates a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants,” said Butoto.

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