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Hundreds Protest 'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy At State House

BOSTON (CBS) - Chanting "immigrants are welcome here", protesters numbering in the hundreds rallied outside the State House Wednesday.

They not only criticized the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance" policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border, but also demanded more protection for undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts.

state house immigration rally
Hundreds of people swarmed the State House to demand change in immigration policy Wednesday. (Photo credit: Beth Germano - WBZ-TV)

"You never know when you leave your house if you're going to be able to come home the same day," said protester Damaris Velasquez, who came to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant and became a citizen four months ago.

"We have people living in fear within our own borders of the state of Massachusetts," said protester Eduardo Samaniego.

From the streets, the activists stormed inside the State House heading to Speaker DeLeo's office and chanting to see Governor Charlie Baker.

While the Senate has passed some moderate immigrant protections in their budget, the House has not and Governor Baker has balked at the idea of Massachusetts becoming a sanctuary state. "I think it should be up to local law enforcement to keep their communities safe," Gov. Baker said.

The protesters did get support from Senate President Harriette Chandler. The Senate drafted a resolution condemning the Trump Administration's zero tolerance policy just as the President rescinded it. "The people's voices have been heard in here," said Chandler.

Protesters say the President's sudden change of heart was too little too late. "He could have done that a long time ago and stopped using children as a bargaining chip," said Christine Fontanez, who came to the rally with her two children.

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