News from MIRA
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.
House Continues to Attack Immigrants, Economy with Mandatory E-Verify Bill
Wednesday, June 15, 2011. BOSTON â€” Represenatative Lamar Smith today introduced the Legal Workforce Act, legislation that would require all employers to use the badly flawed electronic employment eligibility verification system known as â€œE-Verifyâ€. This system and the database it uses are so full of errors that mandating the program would send an estimated 770,000 legal workers to the unemployment line, unable to obtain new work because of the errors in the system. Mandatory E-Verify would send an additional 3 million legal American workers, most of them US Citizens, to their local Social Security offices to correct mistakes in their files. Many of these people would have to make multiple trips to Social Security in order to bring the necessary documents. The resulting loss of wages would cost American workers hundreds of millions of dollars in income at a time when many families are struggling to get by. To add insult to injury, the bill would even limit the legal remedies of the millions who would be wrongly fired because of errors in the system.
State Rep. Fattman Says Undocumented Immigrant Rape Victims "Should Be Afraid to Come Forward"
6/10/11 BOSTON â€” State Representative Ryan Fattman yesterday said that undocumented immigrants who are raped and beaten in the street should be afraid to go to the police.
The statement was quoted in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette (Wed, June 8, 2011), which asked the Sutton Republican if he would be concerned that these victims might be afraid to report the crime under the Secure Communities enforcement program. Rep Fattman belongs to a group of Representatives protesting Governor Deval Patrick's decision not to sign onto the controversial immigration enforcement program. In part, the Governor rejected Secure Communities because it may endanger the willingness of some crime victims to seek help from the police.
â€œMy thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward,â€ Mr. Fattman said, referring specifically to rape victims beaten in the street. â€œIf you do it the right way, you donâ€™t have to be concerned about these things,â€ he said, referring to obtaining legal immigration status.
State Senate Passes Anti-Immigrant Amendments Again
Friday, June 3, 2011. BOSTON â€” Despite the defeat of anti-immigrant measures in the State House of Representatives, the State Senate voted recently in an eleventh-hour session to pass anti-immigrant measures almost as harsh as those it passed last year.
"We are deeply disappointed that the State Senate would adopt these measures," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "These are not only unnecessary, they show a dangerous disregard for fiscal prudence at a time of budget shortfalls and economic instability. They also distract us from the real problems in Massachusetts by targeting powerless immigrants. Some of these measures have the potential to cost taxpayers' millions, burden small businesses, endanger the welfare of U.S. citizen children, and tie-up the Attorney General's office with work that has no bearing on its duties."
Governor Patrick's Decides Not to Sign Onto "Secure Communities"
6/6/11, BOSTON â€” Governor Deval Patrick announced that he would not sign the Memorandum of Agreement entering the Commonwealth into the "Secure Communities" immigration enforcement program. The Governor's decision demonstrates the growing tide of resistance to this controversial federal program, which sends the fingerprints of anyone arrested by local police through an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database, allowing ICE to flag matches for deportation.
The program's intention is to deport dangerous criminals. But ICE's own statistics have shown a preponderance of low level and non-criminal offenders ensnared and deported by "Secure Communities," which the federal government wants to institute at every police force in the nation by 2013. Governor Patrick's decision not to participate makes him the third governor to reject the program, which has come under internal investigation by Homeland Security's Inspector General for its over-extended reach.
The Governor, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, immigration advocates, the editorial boards of major newspapers, and advocates for domestic violence victims have all objected to "Secure Communities" for endangering the bond of trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, among numerous other flaws.