Massachusetts Immigrant Integration Policy
New Americans Agenda
Massachusetts is among a handful of states (MD, NY, IL, WA) that lead the nation on comprehensive immigrant integration plans. Governor Deval Patrick signed Executive Order 503 in 2008 for "integrating immigrants and refugees into the Commonwealth," and launched the New Americans Agenda (NAA).
It commissioned a partnership between MIRA, the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (MORI), the Governor's Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants (GACRI), and other community organizations, to develop and deliver a series of policy recommendations that proactively integrate of the ever growing and diversifying immigrant community into the economic and civic life of the Commonwealth.
Over a year of public meetings, research, interviews, and input from state agencies in issue-based policy working groups, culminated into NAA's 131 recommendations - and were delivered to Gov. Patrick on October of 2009.
MIRA thanks all the community partners and state officials who have made this endeavor a milestone in immigration policy, especially in light of Arizona's SB1070 enforcement-only law and a rise in anti-immigrant proposals in state legislatures across the nation, including Massachusetts.
It is MIRA's mission to push the stakeholders in this project to implement the recommendations as the Commonwealth continues to benefit from the growth of immigrant populations and the indespensible workforce and civic energy that strengthen our economic recovery and revitalize our neighborhoods.
As of July 2010, the Patrick Administration committed to implement this first set of goals:
- Strengthen efforts to pass legislation allowing immigrant students to pay the in-state tuition rates if they lived in the state for three years, graduated from a Massachusetts high school, and are on a path toward citizenship.
- Create a statewide task force, led by education and labor officials, to eliminate the waiting list for English classes statewide. Report due January 2011.
- Track the result of efforts to reduce dropout rates among Latino students and students who are not fluent in English and have some of the highest dropout rates in the state.
- Find ways for immigrants, especially medical professionals, to transfer the licenses or professional skills gained in their homeland to Massachusetts, so that they can reestablish their careers here.
- Aid immigrant-owned businesses by providing technical assistance and development services. Report on progress due January 2011.
- Buy translation equipment for use at state public meetings by September 2010 and make it available to all state agencies.
- Continue to fund citizenship programs and restore health care funding for legal immigrants whose coverage was reduced in the 2010 budget.
Other recommendations in progress:
- Discourage questioning by local and State Police about the immigration status of those involved in crimes, including victims, witnesses, and suspects.
- Continue working to increase the number of loans granted to minority home buyers by MassHousing, the state's affordable housing bank.
View the full report below, or download it here