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MIRA advocates for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and refugees. In partnership with its members, MIRA advances this mission through policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training and leadership development, and strategic communications.

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Brown v. Warren: An untouched topic and untapped electorate

As the race for the Senate seat in Massachusetts heats up and Election Day draws near, it is important to consider the effects the outcome will have on the state’s minority and immigrant communities – and vice versa.

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Political Grandstanding: more from the town of Milford

The town of Milford has been surprisingly successful in drumming up media attention around its agreement with ICE to sign on to its "IMAGE" program, which would give the city access to the controversial E-Verify system. Although we would like to ignore this piece of political theater, we are obliged to state our reservations concerning the program.
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Targeting undocumented immigrants - Globe editorial by Eva Millona

The Boston Globe's blog "The Podium" published an editorial by MIRA's executive director, Eva Millona, explaining why the new RMV provision won't make Massachusetts any safer. Read the article or see the full text below. Take action on this issue!

Targeting undocumented immigrants

By Eva A. Millona | JULY 24, 2012

The Legislature recently pushed through a provision in the state budget that clearly targeted undocumented immigrants, requiring the RMV to ask for “proof of legal residence” before applicants could register their vehicles. In seeking to amend that language, Governor Patrick noted that “it serves the public’s safety interests to know, through registration, the name and whereabouts of the owner of every vehicle on the Commonwealth’s roads.” But the Legislature sided with state lawmakers from Arizona to Alabama who want to dedicate state resources to the federal issue of immigration checks — by the Department of Transportation’s estimate, the provision will cost over a million dollars to implement.

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Free Citizenship Clinic and a BIG thanks!

This Saturday, MIRA will join the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative (GCBI) in hosting our only Boston-area citizenship clinic of the summer. These free clinics provide legal permanents residents (LPRs) with the guidance, referrals and materials needed to successfully complete their application, pass their citizenship test, and become fully integrated and engaged U.S. citizens.

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A much-needed spark to the DREAM

In the lyrics of Sam Cooke, “It’s been a long time coming, but I know…a change is gonna come.”

Today, President Obama will announce lifting the threat of deportation for some undocumented students and granting them work authorization on a temporary and renewable basis.

In a memo released this morning from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, an estimated 1 million young people could be eligible for DHS’s “deferred action” directive. Students in the U.S. who are already in deportation proceedings or those who qualify for the DREAM Act, will not be deported and will be eligible for work permits.

To be eligible, applicants must be between 15 and 30 years old and have resided in the U.S. for at least five years continuously. Students can either be presently enrolled, graduated, received a high school diploma/GED, or be honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces.  People who have one felony, one serious misdemeanor, or three minor misdemeanors will be ineligible to apply. Minor traffic violations such as driving without a license, will not be counted. Deferred action will last for two years and can be renewed, meaning long-term relief is still be predicated upon legislative change.

Republic Senators blocked the DREAM Act in 2010, after it passed the House – the furthest it has gone in the legislative process.  The DREAM Act offers a pathway toward permanent residency for young people who have completed some college or military service. This year, House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) has already said he would not hold a hearing on the DREAM Act in his committee.  Recently, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has expressed support for a scaled-back version of the bill.

This announcement is a much-needed boost to our nation’s spirits and economic vitality. While this is a milestone for the immigrant rights movement, and a long overdue help for the young people who have known no other home other than the US, it is important to recognize that this does not alleviate the need for congressional action and comprehensive legislation.

The administration’s action today is not guaranteed immunity or categorical amnesty. Instead, the process will still be subjected to the discretion of individual field officers. Today’s directive and broadening of criteria is certainly promising, but it is important to prevent the spreading of false information and exploitation of immigrants.

Further details regarding the detailed process and implications on access in-state tuition, conditions for travel, etc. are forthcoming.

Tune in at 1:15 p.m. for the President’s statement.

(Photo: Massachusetts student activists advocating for the DREAM Act in front of the State House in 2010)

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The Obama administration to stop deporting DREAMers

Breaking news this morning via Associated Press:

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin giving work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of a growing Latino electorate that has opposed administration deportation policies.

The administration’s decision will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants. Two senior administration officials described the plan on condition of anonymity ahead of its expected announcement Friday.

Stay tuned for details.

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MIRA Turns 25 in the Sky

This year’s Give Liberty a Hand gala also marks MIRA’s 25th anniversary. While MIRA is honored to celebrate another year of continued positive influence in the community, we are especially eager to honor the longevity of the organization.  The sustained presence and expansion over the years is a point of particular pride for all of those who have remained steadfastly involved with MIRA and its core mission of advocating for immigrant and refugee rights in the Commonwealth.  To those organizations and individuals who have contributed to this continued success, we extend our deepest gratitude.

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Deval Patrick Talks Immigration at Tufts University

As part of the Tufts Hillel Moral Voices lecture series, Deval Patrick spoke at the university on Monday about immigration rhetoric and voiced concerns regarding existing and pending immigration policies.  Continue reading to take a look at what the governor had to say by reading the speech’s transcript.

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Send them to study

DetourIt is that time of year when high school seniors eagerly await their college acceptance letters.  For many, of course, acceptance does not guarantee access. Undocumented students must still pay 2-3 times more tuition than other students to attend public colleges in our state, regardless of their contributions to their communities, number of years in the U.S., or the absence of any choice in whether to immigrate.  Because they are also ineligible for public financial aid, college is therefore a financial impossibility for many undocumented students. The Massachusetts legislature, for the fourth time in the last decade, has deferred these students the equal access to higher education they deserve. 

Last summer, students, educators, business leaders and other supporters of higher education equality packed a
State House hearing room to testify in favor of An Act regarding higher education opportunities for high school graduates. This bill would remedy our state's current discriminatory policy by allowing all students to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges in Massachusetts provided they attend high school for at least three years in our state and graduate or obtain a GED. The bill would also generate $7.4 million per year once fully implemented, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, without crowding classrooms.

Last week, An Act regarding higher education opportunities for high school graduates was "sent to study" by the Joint Committee on Higher Education, effectively halting progress for the remainder of this year.  While it was convenient for politicians to not take up a reasonable and pragmatic bill because of yet another election season, many students are left again with the burden of sending themselves to study with unrealistic costs, or not pursue college at all.

By kicking the can down the road, the Legislature is not only failing these students, but also wasting talent of a population most likely tostay, contribute to the Commonwealth. Delaying the bill also lacks foresight in our goals for a strong economic recovery, especially as our entrepreneurs, world-class companies and research institutions are hungry for a readied workforce in this globalized knowledge-based economy. Having already lost our first-mover advantage, thirteen states have adopted laws and policies of higher education equality, including our neighbors New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. But this momentum also gives us hope, especially as the movement for national immigration reform continues.

MIRA expresses our deepest gratitude to the lead sponsors of this bill, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Representative Denise Provost and Representative Alice Wolf, who stood as courageous champions for this bill, as well as the co-sponsoring legislators of this bill and all students, advocates and allies that stood up for higher education equality this session. It will be a bittersweet summer for some of our high school graduates, but it doesn't have to be this way for those that follow the class of 2012.

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Temporary Protected Status for Syrian Nationals

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced today that Syrians currently in the United States may apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to avoid the increasingly violent situation in their home country.  TPS is not guaranteed.  Those who are eligible must complete the application process and a background check and Syrian nationals with a criminal record will not be eligible for the protected status.  According to the press release, DHS will publish a notice in the Federal Register early next week that will offer more detailed information about TPS and how to apply.  Syrian nationals are encouraged to apply but should not submit any application forms until the information contained in the notice becomes available.  Upon acceptance, Syrians are eligible to remain in the United States for 18 months.  At the end of that 18 month period the designation will be readdressed as there is a possibility of extension should the violence in Syria persist....
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