News from MIRA

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.

Read more: MIRA Joins Leaders at National Immigrant Integration Conference in Baltimore

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.

Read more: Temp Worker Bill Passes MA Legislature

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.

Read more: Advocates Condemn Law on Immigration Status Checks at Registry of Motor Vehicles

Immigrant Advocates applaud end to three bad provisions, vow to fight controversial fourth through courts and immigrant empowerment

June 25, 2012 BOSTONAfter the mixed Supreme Court decision this morning on the controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law SB 1070, immigrant advocates in Boston and across the nation promised to continue to fight the divisive and destructive law through continued litigation and the empowerment of new immigrant voters.

Read more: Supreme Court's Mixed Arizona Ruling Spurs Immigrant Action

Measures seek to deprive children of housing, burden small businesses, and deny employment to many authorized workers

May 25, 2012 BOSTON —Speaking on the Senate floor about a provision that mandates the use of E-Verify for businesses contracting with state government, Senator Wolf of Harwich said, "I have hired thousands of people in a lot of areas: New Bedford, Boston, Provincetown, Hyannis. I can tell you we have never had an issue that relates to E-Verification that would make me want to support it. The [current] I-9 validation requires multiple forms of proof that are working. Part of this amendment looks like a solution in search of a problem."

Read more: Once Again, State Senate Adopts Anti-Immigrant Amendment in Budget