More than 200 people rallied on Boston Common on Wednesday afternoon in favor of a bill that would prevent state, local, and campus police from assisting federal immigration officials.
Several cities across the state, including Boston and Lawrence, have adopted similar policies, often known as the Trust Act. This new legislation, known as the Massachusetts Safe Community Act, goes farther by seeking a statewide law. It would also prohibit the state from assisting with any creation of a federal Muslim registry.
Although versions of this bill have been filed unsuccessfully in the past, this year proponents say the need couldn’t be more urgent. Over the weekend, President Trump signed an executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
“While Donald Trump may have won the executive order, he has not changed Massachusetts values,” said state Senator Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, who filed the bill along with Representative Juana Matias, a Lawrence Democrat.
Matias along with state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, a Democrat who represents Dorchester, Mattapan, South Boston, and Hyde Park, spoke about being the children of immigrants.
“We believe in immigrants, we believe in the value of immigrants coming to our great country,” Dorcena Forry boomed into the microphone before a sea of people cheering and holding signs that said “No Ban. No Wall.”
At one point the crowd chanted “Where is Charlie?” referring to Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s absence from recent rallies on issues related to Trump.
As the speeches continued, Fiona Yu of Malden stood on the stone steps leading up to Beacon Street, holding a sign that said “No deportations” in Chinese. Yu, who works at the Workers Center in Chinatown, said through an interpreter that many Chinese residents have come into the office unsure what the immigrant ban means for them, even though China is not among the seven countries mentioned in Trump’s ban.
The city of Boston’s Trust Act is intended to bar city police from cooperating with federal immigration officials, although the Globe reported earlier this year that the act appears to have been violated on nine occasions last year.
Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim pushed for the city’s policy.
“Obviously a state version would be much broader; it protects more people and also just sends a very strong signal where we as a Commonwealth stand,” Zakim said Wednesday in a phone interview.
Through a spokesman Wednesday afternoon, Baker said he opposes Trump’s executive order but does not support the concept of a sanctuary state, another term for what the bill proposes.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo has also spoken out against the immigration ban but a spokesman Wednesday would not say whether he supports this bill. The speaker is meeting with stakeholders, he said.
A previous version of this article misidentified Linda Dorcena Forry.