News from MIRA

Decision on Safe Driving Bill postponed to May 15; Trust Act passed favorably out of committee

safe driving postponedMarch 20, 2014 BOSTON —  Immigrant advocates and their allies reacted positively to the decisions yesterday from various legislative committees on bills that would increase public safety and equity in Massachusetts. The Joint Committee on Transportation extended until May 15 its consideration of the Safe Driving Bill, which would allow all otherwise qualified Massachusetts residents to earn a driver's license, regardless of their immigration status. And the Joint Committee on Public Safety favorably reported out the Trust Act, which would grant local law enforcement decision making power over whether or not to honor detainers issued by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for low-level, non-dangerous detainees.

Read more: Pro-Immigrant Safety Measures Make Headway in State House

A thousand students would lose adult education classes under current BPS budget proposal

March 12, 2014 BOSTON — Adding to a petition signed by nearly 300 classmates and appearances at previous budget hearings, a group of adult students willMaria_Harris_edited rally tonight at 4:30 outside the Boston Public Schools building to ask the School Committee to reject cutting almost all funding from the Department of Adult Education and Community Services. The budget proposal under consideration would eliminate 85 percent of the program's funding, cutting $1.1 million dollars
from a program that cumulatively serves nearly 1,000 students at its four sites. In the daytime, the program offers classes in Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and in the evening also offers the city's only credentialed adult high school program, located at the Madison Park High School complex.

Maria Harris (center), Director of Adult Education, informing evening students of potential school cuts, O'Bryant High, February 25

Read more: Adult Students Rally to Save  BPS Adult Education Program

Six-hour hearing ends with stream of spontaneous testimonies in favor of bill that would ensure all Massachusetts drivers are tested, licensed and insured

edited_DSC_1051March 6, 2014 BOSTON —  Yesterday over 500 immigrants and supporters "took over" the State House, as one admiring Representative put it, to advocate for passage of the Safe Driving Bill, which would allow all qualified Massachusetts residents to apply for a driver's license regardless of one's immigration status. In a long and impassioned public hearing on the bill, supporters seemed to win  over the admiration of the Joint Transportation Committee co-chair, Representative William Strauss, who closed the hearing by commending participants on their dedication and civility.

Read more: PRESS STATEMENT: Hundreds of Immigrants Pack Safe Driving Bill Hearing

Potential snow storm delays hearing on bill that would ensure all Massachusetts drivers are tested, licensed and insured

Feb 4, 2014 BOSTON —  For the second time in a month, a potential snow storm has delayed a press conference and hearing on the Safe Driving Bill, this time moving the date from tomorrow until Wednesday, March 5. The Safe Driving Coalition notes that the postponement prudently puts safety first — as does the Safe Driving Bill. The coalition of over 50 organizations from across Massachusetts supports the bill in an effort to improve road safety and to lower costs for all Massachusetts residents by ensuring all Massachusetts drivers are tested, licensed and insured.

"By removing immigration status as a barrier to applying for a learner's permit and taking a driving test, the Safe Driving Bill would reduce both accidents and costs," said State Senator Patricia Jehlen, the lead Senate sponsor of the Bill. "Not only would roads become safer, police and other officials who monitor our roads and highways would be able to focus on that safety first and foremost.”

Added Julia Koehler, M.D., of Clinicians for Healthy Families, "Parents taking their children to medical appointments often have no choice but to drive, and currently they have to decide whether they should risk arrest for driving without a license, or whether they should neglect their child’s medical needs. Either side of this decision is deeply harmful to the child and to the parents, and at present there are families all over the state who are making one or the other of these decisions. This is wrong and there is a solution for it: the Safe Driving Bill."

Read more: SAFETY FIRST! Safe Driving Bill Hearing and Press Conference Postponed Until March 5

Business, labor, faith, and safety groups join to push for law to license and insure all Massachusetts drivers 

Jan 21, 2014 BOSTON —  On Wednesday, February 5, leaders in business, labor, faith and public safety will join with immigrants and their allies at a press conference outlining their support for the "Safe Driving Bill," which they will present in detail  later that day at the hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation. The speakers will emphasize the bill's overall benefit to every resident of the Commonwealth. By removing barriers that prevent some residents from applying for a learner's permit and taking a driving test, the bill would go a long way towards making sure all Massachusetts drivers are trained, licensed and insured. Not only would road accidents be reduced, police and other officals who monitor our roads and highways would be able to focus on safety first and foremost. The bill would also particularly help some who do not live near public transportation, and protect the health and well-being of children who depend on their parents in medical emergencies.
"I am testifying before the committee because the Safe Driving Bill presents a solution to the problem of road safety," said Carly McClain, a mother who was injured in an accident with an uninsured and unlicensed driver. "If the gentleman who hit my car had had the ability to apply for a license, he might have then passed a road test that would have made him a safer driver. States from California and Colorado to our neighbors Connecticut and Vermont have passed laws to disentangle immigration policy from road safety. It's time for our diverse and progressive state to do the same by passing our own Safe Driving Bill."

WHAT: Press-Conference Supporting "Safe Driving Bill"

WHERE: Nurses Hall
Massachusetts State House

WHEN: Wednesday, February 5, 10:30 AM