Marching band protests immigration detention center in Boston

"It’s very easy to dehumanize them."

In this Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 photo Massachusetts Institute of Technology janitor Francisco Rodriguez-Guardado returns to his cell during his detainment by the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement while being held in the Suffolk County House of Correction in Boston. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
In this Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 photo Massachusetts Institute of Technology janitor Francisco Rodriguez-Guardado returns to his cell during his detainment by the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement while being held in the Suffolk County House of Correction in Boston. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Hundreds of activist musicians played loud music outside an immigration detention center in Boston to protest the detention of immigrants, the Boston Globe reported this week.

Detainees could be seen bopping to the beat of the music as activists with tubas, saxophones, marched on Sunday and played songs like “What side are you on?” while seamlessly weaving the chant “No borders, no nations, stop the deportations” into the mix as they marched around the facility, according to Boston Globe reporter Sarah Betancourt.

“The thing that really bothers me is that we don’t know the stories of the people inside and it’s very easy to dehumanize them,” saxophonist Angie Sassi of Somerville told Betancourt.

One of the detainees includes Francisco Rodriguez-Guardado, who worked as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and had a carpet-cleaning business in Suffolk County. Rodriguez-Guardado has three children and has been detained since this summer. He has yet to meet his youngest child who was born while he was in detention. His lawyer has since asked the federal Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen his asylum case.

Because the pedestrian walkway on a nearby highway overpass brings people within sight of the rooms where detained immigrants are held, it’s easy to see why this ICE detention center was chosen by coordinators with HONK!, which organized a two-day festival of activist street bands. The detention center was also the site of other HONK! musical demonstrations in the past.

The protest comes as the Trump administration finished up its latest immigration enforcement operation to round up hundreds of undocumented immigrants across the country. In late September, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers reportedly detained hundreds of immigrants in a four-day “Safe City” operation, with a focus on cities and regions where ICE face resistance by state and local officials who refuse to turn over suspected undocumented immigrants for potential deportation proceedings. About 50 immigrants in Massachusetts were detained.

It would appear that the Suffolk County House of Corrections is operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. But nearly 90 percent of immigrant detainees are housed in private prisons and county jails, according a Department of Homeland Security report, pointing out operations at facilities owned by ICE may still be carried out by contractors from private companies. The two largest private prison and detention center operators, GEO Group and CoreCIVIC (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) have seen their stock prices jump on President Donald Trump’s promise to build up the number of privately-owned detention centers to hold immigrants. Safety issues and allegations of abuse and neglect have also long plagued detention centers.