News from MIRA

Dream and Promise Act is an important step forward for Congress

Jessica Garcia, a Dreamer from Los Angeles and member of CHIRLA, speaks at the unveiling of the bill. Behind her is lead sponsor U.S. Rep. Lucille Royce-Allard.

BOSTON, March 12, 2019 – Today on Capitol Hill, House leadership unveiled H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, which would provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship to Dreamers and people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Lucille Royce-Allard (D-CA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), builds on the DREAM Act, which was passed by the House in 2010, but fell to a filibuster in the Senate, and the American Promise Act, introduced in 2017 to protect TPS holders.

At a time when even modest proposals to protect immigrants tend to include major tradeoffs ­– from billions for a border wall, to punitive new enforcement policies, to cuts to family immigration – this bill marks a sea change: protecting immigrants without hurting other immigrants.

“The Dream and Promise Act is a breath of fresh air,” said MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “It sends a strong message to Dreamers and TPS and DED holders: We know this is your home. We know how much you contribute to this nation – and we stand behind you.

Read more: Dream and Promise Act is an important step forward for Congress

‘You belong’: Immigrants’ Day brings hundreds to advocate for a more just and welcoming Commonwealth

Doris Reina-Landaverde, flanked by a Harvard student and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, advocated for driver’s license legislation.

BOSTON, March 4, 2019 – Doris Reina-Landaverde was speaking for thousands of people, and she didn’t want to stand alone. So before she began, she asked students from Harvard University, where she works as a janitor, to join her at the podium, along with 32BJ SEIU District 615 leader Roxana Rivera and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Then, her voice still shaky at first, she explained how Temporary Protected Status (TPS) ­– a humanitarian program that covers more than 12,000 immigrants in Massachusetts, about half of them Salvadorans like herself – had enabled them all to build lives and families here over the past two decades.

The Trump administration wants to end TPS for almost everyone, but a federal judge’s intervention has bought some time for TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan (but not other countries); just last week, their protection was extended until January 2020.

But her paperwork still says Sept. 9, 2019. Her license expires on her birthday in December. And in Massachusetts, getting a driver’s license requires proof of lawful presence. TPS holders have already faced difficulties with renewals, even with the law and RMV leadership on their side.

Read more: ‘You belong’: Immigrants’ Day brings hundreds to advocate for a more just and welcoming Commonwealth

White House proposal cannot be taken seriously

The President continues to demand $5.7 billion for a wall in exchange for ending the shutdown, and his offers on DACA and TPS are woefully inadequate.

BOSTON, January 19, 2019 – Today President Trump offered a proposal to end the government shutdown, now on its 29th day, by exchanging the $5.7 billion he has demanded for a border wall – now a “steel barrier” – for limited protections for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. In response, MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona said:

“It’s good to see the President finally recognize that the only way out of this shutdown is to actually negotiate, not just stick to his position while repeating false and misleading talking points. And it’s good that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is finally allowing a vote on at least one proposal to end the shutdown.

“However, the offer on the table cannot be taken seriously. It continues to include billions of dollars for what is essentially a monument to fear and xenophobia, and the concessions it purports to make are woefully inadequate. We would welcome hiring 75 more immigration judges, but the same has been offered by Congressional leaders – combined with actual solutions to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border.

Read more: White House proposal cannot be taken seriously

How to make the most of Worcester’s global talent pool?

Eva addresses Worcester Chamber
MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona invited Chamber members to join her in advocating for investments in integration and policies to protect vulnerable immigrants.

WORCESTER, December 18, 2018 – As President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tim Murray represents a wide range of business leaders, more than 2,000 in all. But despite their diversity, they share a common challenge.

“The single biggest issue that I hear from our members… is the need for a motivated, educated workforce,” Murray said. And immigration, he added, is “clearly a major component of that.”

Worcester is home to about 40,000 foreign-born people, and the Worcester Metro Area, to about 100,000 – from Ghanaians to Vietnamese, Brazilians to Albanians. More than one-fifth of the city’s population is foreign-born, more than double the share in 1990.

Read more: How to make the most of Worcester’s global talent pool?

For Thanksgiving, stories of hope, struggle and resilience in America

Damaris Velasquez of Agencia ALPHA
Damaris Velasquez, co-founder of Agencia ALPHA, was undocumented for 23 years. To those who still are, she said: “Don’t allow this broken system to try to define your identity.”

At Our Shared Table 2018, speakers urged immigrants and refugees to ‘dream big’ and define their own identity, while calling on elected officials to bring Massachusetts realities closer to its ideals.

BOSTON, November 20, 2018 – Iván Espinoza-Madrigal was 9 when he came to the U.S. from Costa Rica. His mother worked for minimum wage so he could get an education, and he was the first in his family to graduate from college, then from NYU Law School.

Now, as executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, he fights to ensure that millions like him can enjoy the same opportunities. Looking out at hundreds of immigrants and refugees gathered in the Great Hall of the State House, he praised them for “not just surviving, but thriving,” and he offered a call to action.

“It is important for all of us to join forces, because we are stronger together,” he said. “I know it can be exhausting, I know it can be demoralizing. But I also know that each of us has the capacity to protect ourselves and each other.”

Read more: For Thanksgiving, stories of hope, struggle and resilience in America