Immigrants & Advocates Oppose Anti-Immigrant Bill

Bill proposed today attacks innocent students and powerless families

Monday, September 26, 2011. BOSTON —Immigrants, advocates and concerned citizens across the state today condemned a new bill introduced at a noon press conference that could potentially invite racial profiling and punish innocent students and powerless families. The bill was introduced after local media exposure of some DUI incidents involving undocumented immigrant, but it largely ignores the issue of driving under the influence and instead imposes punitive measures that would establish invasive and costly procedures in numerous arenas, thus unnecessarily burdening taxpayers' wallets while encroaching upon the civil rights of all state residents.

"This bill demonstrates an over-reaction on the part of legislators that should trouble all those concerned with public safety, with efficient use of resources, and with the protection of civil liberties," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "MIRA encourages lawmakers to oppose its passage and instead support comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, as well as embark on a focused examination of the serious problem of drunk driving itself."

Among its provisions, the bill would:

  • Deny impoverished U.S. citizen children access to public housing if they are the children of undocumented immigrants.
  • Permanently ban in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students (including numerous valedictorians), thus depriving the  state of millions in revenue every year and hampering the development of highly skilled Massachusetts workers.
  • Impose burdensome requirements on the Attorney General's office by establishing a complaint form to report on suspected unauthorized workers.
  • Require the Department of Revenue to undertake costly studies on undocumented immigration, despite evidence that the majority of undocumented immigrants pay taxes, (the Perryman Group estimates undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts account for over $5 billion in economic output that would be lost if they were removed).
  • Force authorities to check the immigration status of every defendant they charge, thus encouraging racial profiling and damaging the relations between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
  • Create an invasive system of housing inspection that threatens to be used selectively against immigrant communities.

“These kitchen-sink bills targeting immigrants for adverse treatment at the local level only end up hurting the states that enact them,” said Iris Gomez, an immigration attorney at Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “Apart from the broader economic consequences of turning into an inhospitable state for immigrants, public resources are squandered when states rush to enact and then have to defend problematic laws in court, only to have their implementation blocked by the courts as occurred in Arizona and three other states.”