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Candidate Ayanna Pressley Calls For Defunding ICE

Ayanna Pressley speaks at her campaign office in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Ayanna Pressley speaks at her campaign office in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 1 year old.

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley held an immigration roundtable in neighboring Everett Tuesday, a day after calling for defunding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

She's in the race for Massachusetts' 7th Congressional District and is trying to set herself apart from her opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a fellow Democrat.

Speaking at La Comunidad, a Latino nonprofit, Pressley fielded questions from community members about how her approach to immigration would be different from status quo Democrats.

Natalicia Tracy, executive director of the Brazilian Worker Center, said at the event that ICE separating immigrant families is comparable to the Holocaust, U.S. slavery and removing Native American children from their parents.

“We cannot continue to stay silent,” Tracy said to Pressley. “And I need to know what you’re going to do about that.”

Pressley said her first step would be to defund ICE. In a statement Monday, she said the agency creates "an atmosphere of toxic fear and mistrust in immigrant communities."

“It's not just racist, it's violent,” Pressley said Tuesday. “And it is creating trauma for families in communities that are not new to trauma.”

Pressley also said she doesn't want the next census to ask about someone's immigration status.

Throughout the roundtable, Pressley described the 7th district as "one of the most diverse in the country" and "the most unequal."

When asked if she thinks she'll win by going to the left of Capuano, who visited the U.S.-Mexico border and spoke about immigration this past weekend, Pressley said she's not trying to out-progressive anyone.

"I take my cues and my direction from the people I represent every day," she said.

Pressley said Capuano voting progressively doesn't necessarily earn him a profile in courage.

Capuano did not respond to WBUR’s interview request on Tuesday.

Related:

Quincy Walters Twitter Reporter
Quincy Walters is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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