State Senate Passes Anti-Immigrant Amendments Again

Friday, June 3, 2011. BOSTON — Despite the defeat of anti-immigrant measures in the State House of Representatives, the State Senate voted recently in an eleventh-hour session to pass anti-immigrant measures almost as harsh as those it passed last year.

"We are deeply disappointed that the State Senate would adopt these measures," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "These are not only unnecessary, they show a dangerous disregard for fiscal prudence at a time of budget shortfalls and economic instability. They also distract us from the real problems in Massachusetts by targeting powerless immigrants. Some of these measures have the potential to cost taxpayers' millions,  burden small businesses, endanger the welfare of U.S. citizen children, and tie-up the Attorney General's office with work that has no bearing on its duties."

Ms. Millona continued, "We urge our members and concerned residents to contact the Conference Committee and ask its members to remove this harmful amendment from  the final state budget. We hope that with their input and time to reconsider, the committee will reject these provisions as costly and redundant."
Brief Summary of Senate Budget Amendment #122.1
  • Mandates all public contract holders and subcontractors with less than 500 workers institute "E-Verify," an electronic employment verification system. (Potentially costing each business thousands of dollars to institute).

  • Mandates the Inspector General to develop and promulgate regulations to make sure contractors comply with federal immigration laws (Thus duplicating regulations already mandated by the federal government).

  • Limits motor vehicle registration to those who hold valid license or ID cards, with limited exemptions, and increases RMV penalties. (Thus further pushing undocumented immigrants underground and robbing the state of registration fees).

  • Expands criminal penalties for driving without a license (Thus altering the criminal code through a last-minute budget amendment instead of full legislative consideration).

  • Expands criminal penalties for having a fake driver’s license, as well as for employing immigrants who do not have work authorization.(Again, altering the criminal code through rapid budget amendments instead of full legislative consideration).

  • Denies state-assisted housing to mixed status families (Thus leaving U.S. citizen children homeless).

  • Mandates that the AG continue to receive complaints about employment of undocumented workers, refer all substantiated reports to ICE, and report annually to the legislature about each complaint including the date, nature of complaint, AG’s action on complaint, and whether it was referred to ICE. (Costly, redundant of federal law, has chilling effect on immigrant workers who want to report abuses, and detracts AG from enforcing the state's laws).

  • Requires the Governor to report to the legislature on progress with the Commonwealth agreeing to join ICE’s Secure Communities Program. (Unnecessary bureaucratic involvement of legislature in administrative function).

  • Requires MassHealth to enroll in SAVE, an electronic immigration verification process (A potential complete waste of money, since no evidence exists of abuse)