News from MIRA
July 9, 2012 BOSTON — Four provisions targeted at the undocumented immigrant population of Massachusetts were included in the final budget sent to Governor Patrick. These included increased penalties for infractions related to driving without a license and distributing false I.D.s, and the creation of a residency check for vehicle registration. Yesterday, the governor signed the final budget, allowing three increased-penalty measures to stand and amending the registration provision.
Lawyers and advocates offer group and individual assistance at largest gathering in New England
August 16, 2012 BOSTON — Over 400 young people packed into the gymnasium at Roca in Chelsea last night, eager to hear advocates and lawyers explain how to apply for the program that will allow young undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and live without fear of deportation. Organized by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Organization and Roca, the gathering was the largest in New England, and one of dozens held that day by similar organizations across the country. Nationally, 1.8 million young people are estimated to qualify for this administrative action, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), including some 10 to 20,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 in Massachusetts. The Chelsea forum lasted nearly three hours, with a presentation on community outreach by the Chelsea Police Department, followed by a detailed PowerPoint presentation in English and Spanish about the program by MIRA staff and board president John Wilshire-Carrera, of Greater Boston Legal Services.The event also offered immigrants one-on-one legal consultations, with the assistance of volunteers from the American Immigration Lawyers' Association.
Eight hundred to attend largest integration conference in nation
September 21, 2012 BALTIMORE — The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Organization (MIRA) will join 800 colleagues this weekend from Maine to California in the largest gathering ever held in this country on the issue of immigrant integration. Sponsored this year by CASA de Maryland, the National Immigrant Integration Conference, or NIIC, brings together leaders in government, business, academia and the non-profit sector to ensure that immigrants have the opportunity to become integral members of the U.S. communities they call home.
The conference officially opens on Sunday with an address by Maryland governor Martin O' Malley. Later, a plenary session will explore "Active Citizenship: National Models for Success," featuring comments by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. The plenary will also include questions from national immigrant leaders from election battleground states, in a year in which the presidency could be determined by immigrant voters.
Legislature Passes Temporary Worker's Right to Know Act — advocates celebrate new protections for temp workers
July 31, 2012 BOSTON — Today the Massachusetts legislature passed a landmark bill that would prevent unethical temporary employment agencies from exploiting temporary workers and undermining law-abiding businesses. The Temporary Worker's Right to Know Act, sponsored by state Representative Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester), requires temp agencies to provide written notice of key details of job assignments, disclosure to workers of how to reach the Department of Labor Standards, and the name of the workers' compensation provider, among other protections. The bill will now go to Governor Deval Patrick, whose administration had testified in favor of the bill.
"After more than a year of meetings with a diverse coalition of stakeholders, we have a comprehensive piece of legislation that strengthens a temporary workers right to critical information about their employment, while also minimizing the burden on employers," Rep.Forry said.
Legislature overrides Governor's veto, establishing unprecedented state interference with private property ownership
July 31, 2012 BOSTON — Last night the Senate voted 24 -10 to override Governor Deval Patrick's veto of a provision in the state budget that would require vehicle registration applicants to show "proof of legal residence." Earlier in the day, the House also voted 134-19 to override the Governor's veto, despite the Governor's concern, voiced in the State House News, that, "without a legitimate public safety purpose, this bill appears to be aimed at using the RMV to identify and police undocumented people." During the debate, Representative Daniel Webster boasted that the provision would put Massachusetts in league with states like Arizona, which seek to fight immigration battles on their own.
Throughout Massachusetts, the provision was condemned by immigrant advocates, clergy, legal experts, and legislators concerned with the well-being of their immigrant constituents. For the first time in Massachusetts, it makes vehicle ownership contingent on federal immigration status, to be monitored by a state agency. Despite proponents' claims that the measure was motivated by public safety concerns, the ill-conceived language would require documents unrelated to eligibility to drive. These requirements clearly target immigrants, potentially including those eligible to drive in Massachusetts, for no legitimate public safety rationale. Besides increasing wait times at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation estimates the provision will cost at least a million dollars to implement.