News from MIRA

Mass. advocates vow to fight Trump administration effort to penalize working-class immigrants

Parent and child hold hands

A proposal to redefine ‘public charge’ would deny green cards to people who access key safety net programs – or whose jobs don’t pay high enough wages.

BOSTON, September 23, 2018 – The Trump administration yesterday released a proposed regulation that seeks to penalize legal immigrants for accessing programs that help working families with health care, housing and nutrition, or for holding low-wage jobs that don’t enable them to meet an arbitrary income threshold.

The draft regulations would vastly expand the definition of “public charge” – someone who is dependent on government benefits and thus may be denied a green card – to include not only people who receive cash benefits or need long term care, but also those who participate in numerous “safety net” programs used by millions of working Americans. It would also make it easier to deny permanent residency to anyone earning less than 250% of the federal poverty line ($62,750 for a family of four). 

“This proposal is a toxic blend of nativism and class warfare,” said MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “It is overtly discriminatory, and we will fight vigorously to ensure that it is never adopted.”

Read more: Mass. advocates vow to fight Trump administration effort to penalize working-class immigrants

An unconscionable betrayal of immigrants and their families

BOSTON, Aug. 14, 2018 – A court filing by the ACLU of Massachusetts in Calderon v. Nielsen reveals that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) personnel have actively collaborated with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to facilitate the detention and deportation of immigrants.

MIRA strongly encourages its members and concerned citizens to read the entire filing, which has prompted immediate condemnation from public officials (see letter from Congressman Michael Capuano).

Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA, responded with the following comments:

“The revelations in the ACLU’s court filing are deeply disturbing. We have come to recognize that at this point, ICE really is just ‘in the removal business,’ with little regard for public-safety priorities, much less the human impact of its actions. USCIS, however, has a very different mission. Every immigrant who enters this country, applies for a green card, or seeks U.S. citizenship goes through USCIS. And under our Constitution, they all deserve due process.

Read more: An unconscionable betrayal of immigrants and their families

Mass. Legislature abdicates moral leadership in budget deal

BOSTON, July 18, 2018 – Today the Conference Committee released its version of the FY2019 state budget, stripped of four provisions to protect immigrant families that the Massachusetts Senate had overwhelmingly approved in May.

Eva A. Millona, executive director of the MIRA Coalition, responded with the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed. The Massachusetts Legislature had a prime opportunity to stand up for civil rights and human decency, and under political pressure from Governor Baker and conservative Democrats, it backed down. The safety and well-being of tens of thousands of immigrant families will suffer as a result.

“It is particularly disturbing that the Legislature succumbed to fear-mongering about ‘sanctuary’ policies. Though nothing in the four provisions approved by the Senate actually met the definition of ‘sanctuary’ used by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, prominent House members embraced nativist propaganda misrepresenting those provisions, using the falsehoods as political cover for their inaction.

Read more: Mass. Legislature abdicates moral leadership in budget deal

Travel ban decision sets a dangerous precedent for America


When the travel ban was first implemented, protesters flooded airports across the U.S. Photo by Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons.

BOSTON, June 26, 2018 – Today the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban, which forbids travel to the U.S. for the 150 million citizens of five Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — as well as North Korea, with very limited exceptions.

The 5–4 decision in Trump v. Hawaii rests on a broad definition of executive authority. Even in the face of extensive evidence of the President’s anti-Muslim animus, the majority found, the ban must be upheld if it can be reasonably linked to “a justification independent of unconstitutional grounds.”

Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, the few policies the Court has struck down in the past were found to be “divorced from any factual context… [showing] a relationship to legitimate state interests.”

“Today’s decision is deeply troubling and sets a dangerous precedent,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA. “What the Supreme Court said, in essence, is that no matter how obvious the President’s racist and anti-Muslim motivations may be, if he can wrap the travel ban in the pretext of national security, it must stand.”

Read more: Travel ban decision sets a dangerous precedent for America

Order to end family separations will only change how children are traumatized

BOSTON, June 20, 2018 – Today, the President signed an executive order to address the ongoing family separation crisis on the border. Unfortunately for the thousands of people seeking asylum in the U.S., his solution is simply to incarcerate families together, indefinitely, while continuing to blame Congress and the courts for the crisis that he created.

“This executive order does not reverse the ‘zero tolerance’ policy initiated by this administration,” said MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “Rather, it seeks to treat persecuted families as criminals. This is a despicable act that is a debasement of American values.”

In addition to continuing to detain and criminally prosecute people seeking refuge, the Executive Order calls on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to seek a modification of the settlement reached in Flores v Reno. The “Flores settlement” dictates that U.S. Department of Homeland Security keep children in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible, provide basic necessities such as medical care, and separate them from adults to whom they have no relation.

“In seeking to overturn Flores, in seeking to deny basic dignity to asylum-seekers, this administration is once again dehumanizing immigrants,” Millona said. “We urge Congress to see these heinous actions for what they are and take immediate measures to truly protect children and families. They must stand up and show the world that the values of this administration do not represent the values of our great nation.”