News from MIRA

The following is a reprint with permission of an Executive Office of Health and Human Services press release. Press inquiries may also be directed to: Julie Kaviar [HHS] – 617- 573-1610 | or Marcony Almeida-Barros [ORI] – 617-988-3451

Obama Administration grant will help Massachusetts provide training and other services to more than 5,000 refugees and immigrants  

May 22, 2014 Lynn— Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz today announced that the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) has been awarded a grant to enhance vocational,ORI_photo_article educational, and citizenship assistance to refugees and immigrants across the Commonwealth. The nearly $400,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will place 90 AmeriCorps members across Massachusetts who will provide training and support to over 5,000 refugees and immigrants over the next three years.

“We thank the Obama Administration for its continued support and recognition of our Commonwealth’s commitment to immigrants and refugees,” said HHS Secretary Polanowicz. “Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, Massachusetts has long supported expanding growth and opportunity for all residents of the Commonwealth, and this partnership with AmeriCorps has been a critical component of fulfilling that mission.”

Read more: Patrick Administration Announces Grant to Enhance Citizenship, Job Training and Educational...

Task force seeks to accelerate the contributions of thousands of foreign-trained immigrant and refugee healthcare professionals in Massachusetts

BOSTON, May 21, 2014 — On Monday morning, three state offices came together with over a dozen major stakeholders in the Massachusetts healthcare profession to begin a discussion like no other in the nation — how to systematically address the career and professional barriers facing immigrant and refugee healthcare professionals across the state. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI), and the Office of Access and Opportunities (OAO) met with the other stakeholders at EOHHS in a two-hour session that marks the first step in developing a comprehensive policy agenda to be presented early this fall to Governor Patrick, the first such study undertaken by any state government.

Read more: Nation's First State Task Force Addressing the Barriers Facing Foreign-Born Healthcare...

Advocates vow to continue raising support for bill to get all MA drivers tested, licensed, and insured

May 16, 2014 BOSTON — Late yesterday the Joint Committee on Transportation extended its consideration of the Safe Driving Bill, a measure that would allow all otherwise qualified Massachusetts residents to earn a driver's license, regardless of their immigration status. Originally, yesterday had been set as a deadline to either report on the bill favorably, in which case it could have continued through the legislative process, or to end its hopes this legislative session by either reporting unfavorably or sending the bill "to study." The May 15 deadline itself was an extension from an original March 19 deadline, when all state legislative committees made decisions on the bills that had come before them that session.

News of the Committee's second extension was greeted by advocates with measured optimism.

"On the whole, this second extension is a victory," said Gabriel Camacho, Regional Organizer with the American Friends Service Committee. "It shows that all our calls and advocacy have been making a difference with undecided committee members. Our task now is to keep our message loud and clear, and demonstrate how this bill would increase the safety of all residents of the Commonwealth."

Read more: Safe Driving Bill Deadline Extended Until July 3

Safe Driving Bill would help ensure all Massahcusetts drivers are tested, licensed and insured

May 5, 2014 BOSTON — On Saturday, May 3, South Coast residents gathered at the Mattapoisett Friends Meeting House to discuss the Safe Driving Bill, a bill that would remove immigration status as barrier to becoming a tested, licensed and insured Massachusetts driver, thereby improving road safety for all Massachusetts residents.

SafeDriveMattapoisett_016_editIn separate recent online polls conducted by Fox News and by Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham, the bill was favored by at least 70% of voters, and at the Safe Driving Bill hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation on March 5, testimonies in favor of the bill ran from the Patrick Administration to doctors to numerou

s longtime Massachusetts residents, who together outnumbered the smattering of opponents by the hundreds.

The bill follows in the wake of eight states that have recently passed similar legislation, including Vermont and Connecticut. States with Safe Driving laws have shown decreases in both unlicensed drivers and fatal accidents, and immigrant advocates and safety experts alike point to numerous other reasons for the legislation's widespread support.

Read more: South Coast Residents Discuss Safe Driving Bill on Saturday, May 3 Meeting in Mattapoisett

First U.S. runner to win since 1983 brings city, nation and world together at Patriot's Day event

April 22, 2014 BOSTON — Cheers could be heard sweeping through the pack of runners at the Boston Marathon, as news spread that the first person to cross the finish line was Meb Kefleziighi, the first U.S. runner to win the race since 1983. The news also struck a chord of pride among local immigrant advocates, who noted that the 38-year-old Keflezhighi is also an American by choice, having taken the oath of citizenship at age 22, a decade after he arrived in San Diego with his family from their native Eritrea. Over 18 million Americans have also completed their own immigrant journeys by taking the same oath, and Keflezhigi raised their profile the moment he decided to run the Boston Marathon a year ago, when he was an observer of the tragedy near the finish line.

Read more: Immigrant Advocates Salute Meb Keflezighi, Boston Marathon Winner and Naturalized American