Immigrants in Massachusetts and Nation Speak Out on Election Day

Local and national advocates call for action on immigration reform

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November 7, 2012 BOSTON — After polls closed last night, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) teamed up with Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo to sponsor one of 18 rallies nationwide that celebrated the historic immigrant voter turnout and called on both parties to pass immigration reform. While immigrants rallied in front of the Obama headquarters in Chicago and the empty White House in Washington, some 150 immigrants and their allies in Boston bared low temperatures to rally before the Romney campaign headquarters at the Boston Convention Center.

 (left) Boston City Councilor-at-Large Felix G. Arroyo addresses the Keep Families Together rally

"We are done voting, but we must continue to speak up," said Frank Ramirez, Executive Director of the East Boston Ecumenical Community Council, before the energetic crowd. "Our elected officials need to recognize the plight of 11 million men, women and children, and stop tearing apart families with this mindset of papers before people. We will continue to fight until this nation lives up to its highest ideals of inclusion and fairness."

"This election is about all of us, every American, whether your family came to this country hundreds of years ago or yesterday," said Boston City Councilor-at-Large Felix G. Arroyo.  "We are hosting this event to make the message loud and clear that both parties have to come together to find a workable and humane solution for our broken immigration system.

"I am proud of the turnout of new American voters tonight," Eva Millona, Executive Director of MIRA, told the gathering. "We are here to ask Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass workable and humane Immigration reform, so that we can keep families together, strengthen our economy, and move forward together as a nation united."

According to exit polls, Latinos voted in record numbers last night for President Barack Obama in large part because of his positive stance on immigration reform. The Huffington Post reported that exit polls placed Mitt Romney as winning 29 percent of the Latino vote, which is lower than any Republican candidate has received since 1996, reflecting the party's recent abandonment of reform efforts. Returns in Massachusetts also suggested that candidate Elizabeth Warren gained from support in immigrant communities, especially after Senator Scott Brown supported a minority filibuster that killed the DREAM Act in 2010, rebuffing the hopes of thousands of Massachusetts immigrant youth.

As the Huffington Post story notes, Latinos and Asians comprise the fastest growing sector of the voters. Evidence of that demographic was directly felt in the overwhelming support for the Maryland DREAM Act last night, which easily survived an attempt by anti-immigrant groups to recall it. In the Bay State, MIRA has worked for the past year to develop the power of that immigrant block, helping 1,100 immigrants apply for citizenship at statewide clinics, registering 4,000 new citizens to vote at naturalization ceremonies, and mobilizing 20,000 registered immigrant and pro-immigrant voters to come out to the polls on election day.

Simultaneous Keep Families Together rallies also occurred last night in Denver, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Baltimore, Reno, Birmingham, Seattle, Portland, Charlotte, Miami, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Nashville and Milwaukee.

The rallies local co-sponsors included Action for Boston Community Development, American Immigration Lawyers Association New England, Agencia Alpha, Bosnian Community Center, Brazilian Immigrant Center, Centro Latino, Centro Presente, East Boston Ecumenical Community Counsel , Grater Boston Interfaith Organiztions, Greater Boston Legal Services, Irish International Immigration Center, ¿Oíste?, SEIU 615, Immigration Pastoral Center, True Alliance Center, Inc.

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Patricia Sobalvarro, Executive Director of Agencia ALPHA (l)
and Natalicia Tracy, Executive Director of Brazilian Immigrant Center (r)

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MIRA staff and others at the Keep Families Together Rally in front of Boston Convention Center