Advocates Gather to Testify Against Sweeping Anti-Immigrant Bill SB2061

2/28/12 BOSTON — At 1PM on February 28, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 2061 and its counterpart House Bill 3913. The bill, titled “An Act to Enhance Community Safety” has been widely condemned by advocates, including faith-based organizations, poverty law attorneys, and health care providers, as not only anti-immigrant, but actually detrimental to public safety.

The bill was introduced last fall in the legislature as a political response to media uproar over the tragic death of a U.S. citizen by a drunk driver who happened to be undocumented. Instead of tackling the problems of alcohol abuse and driving under the influence, the bill imposes punitive measures on immigrant communities by focusing on matters related to federal immigration law.  These measures would send painful reverberations through immigrant, mixed status and non-immigrant households alike by damaging community-police relations and our economy.

Those opposed to this opportunistic targeting of immigrants are encouraged to sign a petition at MIRA will present hundreds of signed postcards to the legislature tomorrow against this destructive legislation.

Some of the bill’s numerous redundant and sweeping provisions would:

  • Bar undocumented immigrant students in Massachusetts from ever achieving educational equality legislation, as well as bar many currently eligible immigrants from paying in-state tuition, thus depriving our state of millions in revenue every year and impeding the development and contributions of our talented young people.
  • Impose burdensome requirements on the Attorney General's Office by forcing investigations into even unfounded allegations against employers alleged to be employing unauthorized immigrant workers.
  • Require the Department of Revenue to undertake costly studies on the costs unauthorized workers impose on our state, with no required accounting of their contributions, despite evidence that undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes annually to Massachusetts and our federal government.
  • Encourage racial profiling and damage community-police relations by forcing authorities to check the immigration status of every defendant they charge, and requiring the state to appoint an official to facilitate implementation of the Secure Communities program, a program that harms domestic violence victims in particular by threatening them with deportation if they seek protection.
  • Harm our economy and prolong periods of unemployment for many workers by forcing all employers in the state to use the error-prone E-Verify system, a system that misidentifies many authorized workers, especially immigrant workers, as unauthorized and imposes heavy costs on businesses.

“Despite the evidence that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than the native-born, they have been made into scapegoats by opportunistic politicians and media pundits,” said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.  â€œThis bill’s passage would invite the same dire economic and social consequences we are now seeing in Arizona and Alabama. We urge the committee to oppose its passage, and to instead pass legislation that will support the education and integration of immigrants into Massachusetts, making it a safer and better place for all residents to live.”

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition has been advocating against this bill since October by:

  • Providing rapid analysis to MIRA members and allies.
  • Holding one-on-one meetings with legislators.
  • Providing written testimony and organizing other groups to testify at tomorrow's hearing.
  • Holding an Interfaith and Human Rights Press Conference on November 7, with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Amnesty International, Unitarian Universalist Churches in Jamaica Plain and Marblehead, and others, denouncing anti-immigrant actions in Milford.
  • Collecting hundreds of signed postcards against SB2061 from all over the state, which will be delivered to legislators tomorrow.
  • Collecting signatures through a statewide online petition since October 2011.
WHAT:    Joint Committee on the Judiciary hearing on Senate Bill 2061, “An Act to Enhance Community Safety”
WHEN:   Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 1:00 PM
WHERE: Massachusetts State House, Room A2