Lynn Breaks ICE, Halts Deportation

E. Reed reports from Lynn, where residents stopped the detainment and deportation of a father.

On Monday, October 5, some 40 Lynn residents blocked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from arresting a father. ICE detained Robelio in a truck in front of his home as his daughter was forced to watch.

“This is a breach of our community’s peace, having a father ripped away from his daughter for nothing,” one resident yelled to the ICE agents and the Lynn police backing them up. “Trump’s deportation machine is locking someone up and you’re here supporting them. Why are Lynn police here?”

As happens all too often, the police collaborated with ICE and its warrant, providing crowd control for the federal goons. But Monday, thankfully, they were outnumbered.

The family had already been organizing with Lynn United for Change (LUC) for housing justice against their landlord. Robelio’s wife called LUC and the community began mobilizing.

Word spread through Lynn’s mutual aid network, originally set up to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and drew a few dozen to the apartment. Lynn Rapid Response Network, the North Shore Labor Council, New Lynn Coalition, Diverse People United, and faith-based Essex County Community Organization all spread the word and joined the protest.

At one point, ICE agents attempted to drive away with Robelio, but residents circled the truck and sat down. After a 25-minute stand off, ICE released Robelio. The community had stopped the truck and the deportation machine with people power.

But why were the Lynn police there in the first place? Lynn is one of the most diverse cities in Massachusetts. Some 49.2 percent of the city is Hispanic/Latinx. The entire city government, save one city councilor, is run by the Democratic Party.

While Mayor Tom McGee speaks about Ellis Island and his family’s immigrant roots, he continues to allow Lynn police to help ICE deport families like Robelio’s. No matter what rhetoric they use, the Democrats — like the Republicans — are no friends of immigrants. Movements and workers should act accordingly.

“This is not the end, and the family will need support going forward, so please stay tuned,” wrote Lynn United for Change in a Facebook post. “But for today, we showed that solidarity and love and community action — enabled by the work of so many people building grassroots capacity over years — can win.”

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