News from MIRA

Clinic marks launch of new collaborative to increase naturalization rates in Greater Boston

BOSTON — On Saturday, September 17, 2011, dozens of specially trained volunteers will help qualified immigrants fill out and submit all the paperwork required so they can become United States citizens. Held on official Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787), the clinic marks the public launch of Citizenship Works, a new collaborative of eight organizations seeking to increase naturalization rates in Greater Boston.

Read more: New Collaborative Gives Free Citizenship Clinic

Immigrants applaud decision as humane and rational approach to enforcement

Thursday, August 18, 2011. BOSTON — Immigrant advocates and other community agencies learned today that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sent a letter to 23 U.S. Senators, including Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, responding to their request for a review of immigration deportation policy. In the letter, DHS announced that they are joining with the Department of Justice to make a case by case review of 300,000 people currently in the deportation pipeline, and they will subsequently remove "low priority" cases from deportation. This will bring DHS' immigration enforcement in line with a memo about prosecutorial discretion issued on June 17 by John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Read more: Homeland Security Announces End to Deportation of Low-Priority Cases

Rep. Cabral joins workers urging legislature to enact the REAL bill

real_press_conf_1Wednesday, August 10, 2011, NEW BEDFORD — "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.

Read more: New Bedford Speaks Out Against Temp Worker Abuse

Homeland Security flip-flops on need for "Memorandum of Agreement"

Friday, August 5, 2011, BOSTON — 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 — which is not true — 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.

“This is a slap in the face to states that are properly more concerned about enforcing criminal law than civil immigration law,” said Sarang Sekhavat, Federal policy Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.  “It 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.”

All testify in favor of equal in-state tuition rates for grads from MA high schools

audience3Wednesday, July 20, 2011, BOSTON — "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."

Read more: Educational Opportunity Hearing Packed with Supporters, Including Gov. Patrick