The Mayor of Boston, an Irish American of Connemara descent, issued a strong rebuke to Donald Trump over the incoming President’s new immigration policies.
Marty Walsh, the son of parents from Ros Muc and Carna, vowed to fight for the marginalised and promised he would not turn his back on immigrants.
Mr Walsh came out fighting this week after President Trump signed an executive order banning refugees and immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya Sudan and Syria from entering the US.
In an opinion article for CNN, Mr Walsh pointed out that almost 50% of Boston children have at least one parent who was born outside America.
“I identify with those kids because I was one of them. My mother and father came from Ireland to Boston looking for opportunity. They found their American Dream, and I got to live mine by becoming mayor of the city that embraced us,” he said.
Boston is made up of almost one-third immigrants, he said, and the city welcomes and cherishes those who are fleeing persecution or seeking a better life.
He said that’s why he was “angered” by Trump’s executive order, which aims to strip Boston of funding and “shut the door to desperate refugees”.
The new policy, he said, “sent the message that America is rejecting its heritage as a nation of immigrants and giving up on its role as a beacon of hope in the world. More immediately for cities like Boston, these orders threaten to undermine public safety, sap our economic vitality and tear apart our families.”
He said he stood up against it, however.
“We will not change our values or turn our back on immigrants. I will do everything lawful within my power to protect our immigrant neighbours, documented or not. If necessary, I will use City Hall itself to shelter and protect them from persecution. I’m hopeful that it won’t come to that. The fact is, we have American values, common sense and the US Constitution on our side,” Mr Walsh added.
His mother Mary Walsh – formerly Mary O’Malley – is from Ros Cide in Ros Muc and his late father John Walsh was from Callowfeenish in Carna; two of the thousands of Connemara people who have emigrated to Boston through the centuries.
Meanwhile, Galway’s Chicago-based senator Billy Lawless, joined thousands of protestors at O’Hare Airport in the Windy City this week who railed against the ban on travel.
Mr Lawless tweeted he was “proud to stand in solidarity with immigrant and refugees”.
“I stood as Senator for the global Irish in solidarity with immigrant and refugee community groups at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport,” said Senator Lawless in a statement.
“America is a nation of laws but it is also a nation of values. It has always been outward-looking and welcoming to immigrants of all faiths and lands. These Executive Orders do not reflect the spirit of the American people or the country’s leadership role in the world,” he said.
He called on the Trump Administration to rescind the order and follow the words of Pope Francis who admonishes us to welcome the stranger and those fleeing suffering or persecution.
“In this climate, the 50,000 Irish undocumented in the United States are watching closely with fear and trepidation for their future. I stand ready to work with the Irish government to represent the interests of our most vulnerable citizens living abroad and I will encourage the Taoiseach to continue to raise this issue at the highest levels of the US government,” he added.