Roughly 100 Harvard affiliates protested in front of Memorial Church on Thursday night, calling for the abolition of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Act on a Dream, a student-led immigration advocacy group at the College, hosted the rally immediately before their first general meeting of the semester and a few days after Temporary Protected Status ended for individuals from El Salvador.
“We thought it would be a great crescendo just to start the energy rolling, first of all for a new semester with Act on a Dream, and to start talking about a new issue, but it’s definitely an issue that needs to be put into conversation here at Harvard and connected nationwide,” Act on a Dream Advocacy Co-Chair Mariana L. De Leon Dominguez ’21 said.
The rally featured speeches from various campus organizations, including the Temporary Protected Status Coalition and Divest Harvard. De Leon Dominguez, along with her fellow Advocacy Co-Chair Daniela J. Castro ’22, led rally attendees in chants between each speech.
“The main thing we were hoping people would take away was the contextualization of the Abolish ICE movement,” Act on a Dream Co-Director Diego Navarrete ’21, a former Crimson editorial editor, said.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
During his speech at Thursday’s rally, Christian B. Tabash ’21, co-president of the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, affirmed that the PSC stands “in unwavering solidarity with Act on a Dream.”
“It is about time that we hold our government accountable towards the suffering of the immigrants domestically here as well as halfway around the globe in Palestine,” Tabash said.
Speakers from the Student Labor Action Movement and the Prison Divestment Campaign also criticized the Harvard University Police Department’s response to an anti-ICE rally at Amazon’s Kendall Square office last week, where protesters condemned the company’s business ties with ICE. At that event, HUPD helped Cambridge police officers arrest 12 of the protesters on trespassing charges.
HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said Harvard assisted the Cambridge Police Department because they were dealing with an “extraordinarily large protest” of approximately 300 people.
“[Cambridge PD] requested our assistance, and we provided that assistance as we have done in the past at different incidents that represent a public safety concern over the years,” Catalano said.
Liren Ma ’19, who attended the rally, said he was heartened by the protest’s turnout, particularly the large number of freshmen.
“I think I've been a little dismayed by the general inactivity of Harvard students around a lot of things, but I'm hopeful that we're trending upwards with the new class,” he said.
Act on a Dream plans to hold a future symposium that will bring together University affiliates and other activists for a conversation about immigration reform. They also intend to organize a letter-writing campaign to people in detention centers.
Act on a Dream Co-Director Emily A. Romero ’21, a Crimson editorial executive, said she hopes to dispute the idea that “a rally leads to a point and doesn’t really go anywhere from there.”
“We felt like this is the beginning of just building more coalition with different organizations to show how intersectional all these movements are and the power that we have in all coming together to advocate for one thing,” Romero said.
— Staff writer Elizabeth X. Guo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @elizabethxguo.
— Staff writer Amanda Y. Su can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @amandaysu.