It was billed as a “solemn vigil” to protest the implementation of the federal “Secure Communities” program in New Hampshire. But for more than 70 people who gathered in the rain outside Manchester’s Norris Cotton Federal Building it was hard to remain solemn when the Sisters of Mercy started chanting, “Stop Deportations Now.”
On the other hand, everyone paid close attention to Paloma Sylvestr e, who described her husband Juan’s arrest. “He was just driving, going to work,” she said, and was stopped “just for his features.” Paloma was hospitalized during the months Juan was in jail, forcing the couple’s three boys to be separated from both their parents. The family still feels the trauma.
S-Comm represents an escalation of immigration enforcement through data sharing between local police, FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It makes immigrants less secure and by fostering increased fear of police makes our whole communities less secure.
This evening’s vigil was organized when ICE announced last week that S-Comm was in effect in New Hampshire. The event included prayers, comments from Eva Castillo, Maggie Fogarty, and me, and several songs. Newsmedia coverage included WMUR-TV and the NH Union Leader.