Immigrant Advocates React to Final Legislative Budget

June 28th, 2012 BOSTON — The Budget Conference Committee this morning released the final version of the FY 2013 state budget and submitted it to the legislature, which was expected to approve it quickly  Many of the amendments that were most harmful to immigrants were removed from the budget, including one that would have mandated the implementation of the expensive and error-prone E-Verify for all businesses contracting with the state, and one that would have excluded mixed-status families from state subsidized housing, thereby threatening to make U.S. citizen children homeless.

However, a few smaller provisions were included in the Conference Committee budget. These included a provision that would increase documentation requirements for registering a motor vehicle, and could potentially result in the erroneous denial of registrations to certain documented immigrants. Also included were changes in criminal penalties, which precluded the normal course of legislative consideration. These included changes in fines for driving without a license and for employing or allowing an unlicensed driver to operate one's vehicle.

Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, made the following comment:

"We are pleased and relieved that the Conference Committee has wisely decided to reject the harshest provisions that were included in the Senate and House versions of the budget. These employment, housing and strict motor vehicle provisions would have been burdensome and harmful in many respect to documented immigrants and native-born residents alike. They also would have further pushed the state into the dubious role of policing federal immigration policies. In this regard, we are disappointed that provisions relating to the Registry of Motor Vehicles were allowed to pass. Road safety should be everyone's concern, and immigration status in itself has nothing to do with this serious issue. Involving the RMV in immigration status determination does little more than further vilify a convenient political scapegoat. Despite these concerns, we are more than happy to offer the Conference Committee our deep thanks for their restrained actions, and also thank the legislative leadership for their guidance throughout the process."