News from MIRA
Rep. Cabral joins workers urging legislature to enact the REAL bill
Wednesday, August 10, 2011, NEW BEDFORD â€” "The state should regulate every employer across the board equally," said State Representative Antonio Cabral yesterday. In one sentence, the New Bedford Democrat summarized the essence of the REAL Bill, an act that would update and streamline the state's employment agency law. As detailed in a recent report by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a lack of simple regulation has allowed unscrupulous employment agencies to abuse workers in myriad ways, from withholding their overtime pay to denying them basic safety equipment. The REAL Bill would greatly curtail abuse by simplifying an outmoded two-tier registration system that allows some agencies to escape state supervision.
Homeland Security flip-flops on need for "Memorandum of Agreement"
Friday, August 5, 2011, BOSTON â€” In an exceedingly brief conference call with advocates today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that they are rescinding the Secure Communities (S-Comm) Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with states such as Illinois and New York that have expressed a desire to withdraw from the program. As a practical matter, this will have no impact, and DHS intends to continue operating S-Comm in those jurisdictions in which the program is already active. Their posi
tion remains that this program is mandated by federal law â€” which is not true â€” and that the MOAs are not necessary. DHS was not clear on whether they will expand in those states, but is still holding to their stance that the program will be mandatory nationwide in 2013.
â€œThis is a slap in the face to states that are properly more concerned about enforcing criminal law than civil immigration law,â€ said Sarang Sekhavat, Federal policy Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. â€œIt is clear that DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been misleading the public and state and local officials about this program from the start. Now they are continuing to force a program onto states that recognize its fundamental flaws. This is a situation which cannot and should not be tolerated.â€
Wednesday, July 20, 2011, BOSTON â€” "I realize I'm not on the list to testify," said Governor Patrick, as he came to the center of a packed State House hearing room this morning and took a seat among a surprised panel of educators. "But I submitted written testimony and I had a minute, so I just wanted to come by to, um, support that support."
The wording drew a laugh, but the sentiment accurately reflected the fervor of all the testimony heard today by the Joint Committee on Higher Education in favor of House and Senate bills that would allow undocumented immigrant youth to pay the same in-state tuition as their high school classmates. Currently, between 300 and 400 undocumented students every year are charged out-of-state rates, despite having gone to Massachusetts schools for at least three years and earning their high school diplomas here. Since these students are also ineligible for any form of government aid, the out-of-state rate makes college completely unaffordable for practically all of them. As Governor Patrick noted, the bill points out the choice between "enabling a permanent underclass, and creating real opportunities...It's time to fix the law."
Advocates Encourage Mayor Menino to Withdraw from Secure Communities
Mayor commended for swift attention to program's dangers
Monday, July 11, 2011 BOSTON â€” The Boston Globe reported today that Mayor Thomas M. Menino will withdraw Boston from "Secure Communities" if the federal government cannot demonstrate that this controversial immigration enforcement program is doing the job it promised. The federal government's own figures belie its claim that the program's main function is to deport dangerous criminals. As the Globe reported last week, "Federal statistics show that 183 of 352 immigrants deported from Boston since 2008 - or about 52 percent - had no criminal record, much higher than the national average of 29 percent."
Advocates throughout the city today commended Mayor Menino for his announcement, expressed in a public letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security's Secure Communities task force.
and Legislative Action
Eight of nine anti-immigrant amendments removed from budget; most line-items level funded; anti-trafficking bill passes Senate
Thursday, July 1, 2011. BOSTON â€” This morning the Massachusetts legislature is voting on the final version of the state budget, which was passed on by the conference committee last night. By and large, the budget backs away from anti-immigrant language and supports programs crucial to the health and integration of the foreign-born. Eight of the nine anti-immigrant amendments that passed the State Senate this spring have been removed, leaving only the provision requiring those receiving MassHealth to have their immigration status verified through the SAVE program â€” a verification process that was already being implemented before this language was written.