Boston Mayor Walsh Stands up for Immigrants

Mayor Walsh.
Mayor Walsh.

By Michael Quinlin, Contributor
February / March 2017

Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh has emerged nationally as a fiery opposition voice in the early days of the Trump Administration.

The day after the inauguration, Walsh gave a speech at a women’s rally on Boston Common, attended by 150,000 people. Then, when the White House targeted travelers from seven countries from entering the U.S., Walsh convened a press conference at City Hall, surrounded by dozens of immigrant leaders from the city’s various ethnic communities. That evening, Walsh went out to Boston’s Logan International Airport to protest travelers being stopped at the international terminal.

“Today’s executive orders regarding immigrants are a direct attack on Boston’s people, Boston’s strength and our values,” Walsh said. “We will not stand for it…. I will use all of my power within lawful means to protect all Boston residents – even if that means using City Hall itself as a last resort.”

The reference to City Hall as a sanctuary recalled a similar action taken by Boston’s Ray Flynn in 1989, when 40 Polish sailors jumped ship and sought asylum in Boston from their communist government. Flynn opened up City Hall and resisted efforts from the federal government to take them into custody.

A few days after Logan Airport, Walsh led another rally at Copley Square in Boston’s Back Bay, attended by thousands of protestors. He was joined by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Congressman Joe Kennedy and others.

Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants from Connemara, was born and raised in Dorchester, Boston’s largest and most ethnically diverse neighborhood. He is in the third year as mayor of Boston.

“My mother and father came from Ireland to Boston looking for opportunity,” he said. “They found their American dream, and I got to live mine by becoming mayor of the city that embraced us.”

In an op-ed published on CNN, Walsh expanded his argument. “We are a city and nation built on immigrants and we depend on newcomers to maintain the vitality of our country,” he wrote. “We will not be intimidated by a threat to federal funding.  We will not retreat one inch.”

Walsh noted that immigrants comprise nearly a third of Boston’s population and contribute $3.5 billion in consumer spending each year. ♦

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