Boston: a sanctuary city for business alone

Roughly two years ago in Boston, Tara Construction worker Jose Martin Paz Flores fell off of a ladder while on the job, sustaining injuries that required immediate and expensive medical assistance. When Flores sat down to meet with Tara Construction CEO Pedro Pirez thinking he was filing for workers compensation, he was instead met with ICE immigration agents. This was no accident as a recent lawsuit (Alexander Acosta v. Tara Construction Inc. and Pedro Pirez) reveals that Pirez had been in close contact with Boston Police Department Detectives Juan Seoane and Gregory Gallagher in the week leading up to the arrest. Flores was then placed in prison, without medications, for 12 days.

This increased coordination between business leaders and immigration enforcement sets a frightening precedent for undocumented workers. When employers use the police and ICE to punish undocumented workers who speak out about unfair wages or lack of benefits, they create a culture of fear to increase profit. The logic is to lower wages and remove benefits while suppressing the ability of the working class to respond.

According to Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston is a sanctuary city. Walsh has publicly denounced ICE family separations. On paper, these are commendable efforts at a time when it has never been more dangerous to be undocumented in the United States. In reality, Walsh’s words ring hollow. When pressed on the collaboration between police and ICE in an interview with WBUR, he responded, “… when we talk about a joint task force between ICE and [the] Boston Police Department, that relationship goes back 10 years. I don’t think it’s around this particular case. There’s a lot of relationships that the Boston Police Department have with ICE, with the federal government, FBI, U.S. attorney’s office. So, that’s not uncommon to have here.” He then dodged a question on whether or not the commissioner gave direct orders to the BPD to cooperate with ICE. Regardless, his statement is empty. The current lawsuit clearly details a joint task force between ICE and the BPD, with Gregory Gallagher working directly alongside ICE as a representative of the BPD. It was Gallagher who tipped ICE off to Flores.

The narrative that people migrate to the United States in order to search for freedom or economic opportunity is only true to the extent that the countries they migrate from have been rendered unlivable in some way by U.S. imperialism. Honduras, where Flores is from, has some of the highest violent crime rates in the world following the Obama Administration’s coup overthrowing Manuel Zelaya, a left-leaning president who was sympathetic to the Bolivarian Revolution. When direct violence by the United States is not the catalyst, migration can also be spurred by economic devastation brought by multinational U.S. corporations — as happened to Mexican farmers with Monsanto.

It is no surprise that Marty Walsh and the BPD continue to collaborate with ICE in an effort to destroy the lives of immigrants like Flores. Walsh’s flowery rhetoric around protecting immigrants remains hollow because principally standing on the side of immigrants is in complete contradiction with the interests Walsh and the BPD are paid to serve: private property and businesses. It is the duty of all socialists to cut through this political theater, to expose the real class interests of politicians like Walsh, and show why they are diametrically opposed to the interests of all workers.


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