Hours after President Donald Trump signed two controversial executive orders on immigration, Boston’s City Hall was illuminated in red, white and blue Wednesday night to send him a message: “All are welcome here.”
Those are the words Daniel Arrigg Koh, chief of staff for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, shared on Twitter around 11 p.m. ET, echoing statements Walsh made hours earlier.
“We have the Constitution of the United States of America on our side and we won’t back down from protecting our people, no matter what,” Walsh declared in response to Mr. Trump’s executive orders on immigration, including one that threatened to withhold federal grant money from so-called sanctuary cities. “I will use all of my power within lawful means to protect all Boston residents —even if that means using City Hall itself as a last resort.”
Walsh called Mr. Trump’s moves on immigration a “direct attack” on his city’s people.
“We will not stand for it,” Walsh said at a press conference at City Hall Wednesday.
The president’s order pertains to the actions and resources of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the branch of the U.S. government that enforces immigration laws. According to text of the order, it reinstates the Secure Communities Program, which ICE uses to target undocumented immigrants; directs the State Department to withhold visas or take other measures to ensure countries take back the undocumented immigrants the U.S. wants to deport; and also strips federal grant money from sanctuary cities that harbor undocumented immigrants.
“We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States,” Mr. Trump told Department of Homeland Security employees while talking about getting “tough” on immigration.
Unlike some officials who applauded Mr. Trump’s plan to both build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and tighten immigration laws, Walsh called the executive orders “disturbing,” vowing to keep the city of Boston a safe haven for residents, and he wasn’t alone.
Many other mayors, including New York City’s Bill de Blasio, also vowed to defy the order.
“This is a city of immigrants. We always have been for almost 400 years,” said de Blasio, CBS New York reported. “This is our fundamental nature.”
He expressed concern that the Trump order could make undocumented immigrants afraid to report crimes or share information with the police for fear of being deported. “We will not deport law abiding New Yorkers. We will not tear families apart. We will not divide children from their parents. We will not take breadwinners from families with no one else,” de Blasio said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also spoke out against the order.
“We’re going to stay a sanctuary city,” Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Wherever you came from, you’re welcome here.”
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also said they were teaming up to stand against Mr. Trump and his “hateful and harmful policies.”