‘Let My People Stay’: Western Mass Jewish community to rally for DREAM Act

Members of the Jewish community, faith leaders, immigrant rights activist groups, and local area Dreamers will join together in solidarity to support the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act on Thursday, Feb. 8, with a protest outside Northampton City Hall from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The protest is set to take place while the U.S. Senate votes on a spending bill, which could decide the fate of the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who came to the United States as children and are currently protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Image courtesy the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action.

The rally is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action, the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, and local area Jewish social action committees and congregations in Springfield, Northampton, and Amherst.

“We want our Jewish identities to be as visible as possible,” was written in a Facebook event for the rally. “Those who are comfortable are encouraged to wear kippot or tallit or to carry signs indicating that as part of the Jewish community, they support a clean DREAM Act.”

Rose Bookbinder, lead organizer with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, said a clean DREAM act refers to one which “doesn’t sell out other immigrants in our community by pumping up the money that’s being given to ICE or creating a border wall or taking the opportunity to sponsor their parents or their siblings or their children.”

Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a leader with DREAM Act protests in Washington D.C., put out a call to action for local Jewish communities to plan rallies and protests in support of a clean DREAM Act, according to the press release.

“Some of the Jewish communities decided to join forces with us to send a clear message,” Bookbinder said.

The rally was originally planned for Feb. 7 in Springfield, but was moved to Northampton due to the forecasted winter weather.

The rally will include prayers, chants, and speeches from local rabbis and Dreamers, while protesters hold signs with messages such as, “Let My People Stay” and “Clean Dream Act Now!” 

“We’ll be calling on our local elected leaders to do the right thing,” Bookbinder said. “We continue to thank Sen. (Elizabeth) Warren and (Edward) Markey for their commitment to Dreamers and finding a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in our country. We are urging other New England senators to do the same.”

Eduardo Samaniego, a 25-year-old Hampshire College student and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who is an organizer with the Workers Center, said he thinks this is “the fight of our time” for immigrants in the United States.

“I think that having, as partners, the Jewish community across the state of Massachusetts, sends a clear message that we have seen this before and we are standing together to refute and to never let it happen again,” Samaniego said. “Our communities continue to be targeted and now more than ever, we want to send that message of unity.”

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gmail.com.

Author: Chris Goudreau

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