The Immigrants’ Assistance Center daily sees the fear and worry that our neighbors here from other countries suffer. Together, we work mightily to address those concerns, with the help of a range of individuals, organizations and businesses who see helping as a moral imperative — especially now.
But back in October 2017, something happened that we had never quite experienced before. It was the first time the kids in the community themselves reached out to us — moved by deep concern for what is happening to immigrant children and their families here — and wanted to help in a very big way.
The kids we are talking about are four local siblings — Zan, Zoelle, Henri and Wilson Morrissey, ranging in age from 11 to 17 — who make up the local Morrissey Boulevard Band. The foursome had been following the debate over the DACA program created to protect immigrant children that came with their parents to the United States at a very young age. It is a program now in imminent danger of elimination by the Trump Administration. For Morrissey Boulevard, the thought of those children being deported and sent back to a country they have never known was too much.
They had an idea: so on Feb. 24, the band held a benefit concert — assisted by other local talent — that raised $26,465 in sales and sponsorships, all for the work of the IAC which struggles daily to assist families facing being torn apart. That is a too-real threat these days: The IAC, two days before the concert, had held an immigrant family preparedness session with 40 providers there to train families who had one or more members at risk of immigration detention and/or deportation. For some children, their parents have already been deported. The training led by Emily B. Leung, staff attorney for the Mass. Law Reform Institute, touched on the various forms of guardianships and other arrangements for children should their parent be detained or deported.
These efforts and more represent an unprecedented outpouring of time, donations and in-kind services from so many individuals, Greater New Bedford area companies and charitable foundations — and volunteers who come in to tutor, work with students, produced brochures on immigration issues, and more (including the volunteers who create the IAC’s newsletter which you can find at www.immigrantsassistancecenter. org).
To you all: we extend our heartfelt thanks and the life-long gratitude of the immigrants, young and old, and in between, whose lives are forever changed by your generosity of spirit.
Helena DaSilva Hughes, Executive director, Immigrants’ Assistance Center