News from MIRA

Quickly adopted provision in Welfare Reform Bill would eliminate state public housing eligibility for many immigrant victims of natural disasters, torture and sexual violence

IMG_6149Nov. 13, 2013 BOSTON — Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., domestic abuse victims, war survivors, and others will walk the halls of the State House to visit legislators, urging them to reject a hastily adopted provision to the Welfare Reform Bill  that would effectively bar many immigrants from public housing. The provision had been rejected by the State House a number of times over the past year, but similar measures were quickly added to the Welfare Reform Bill in both the House and the Senate versions.

"This is the same harmful, ill-considered measure that the Housing Bond Bill Conference Committee had previously rejected when they understood the real impact on families," said Shannon Erwin, State Policy Director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). "We are dismayed that it would be adopted again,  putting so many people at risk of losing their stable housing."

Read more: Immigrants Urge Legislators to Stop Provision That Would Leave Them Homeless

National condemnation of Speaker's comments swift and massive; immigrants in Massachusetts start closing accounts at unsupportive banks

Nov. 16, 2013 BOSTON — "He did not expect us to be there," said Community Organizer Miguel Leal yesterday afternoon, describing the reaction of a Bank of America BOA_action2  manager when a group of immigrants and allies handed him a letter explaining their decision to close their accounts. "And I could hear him on the phone with another executive saying, 'We need to meet, now!'"

The scene was sparked by the Republican Caucus' final refusal to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

On Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner said that House action "is not going to happen" on a Senate immigration reform bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in June.  "And frankly," the Ohio Republican continued, "I’ll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."

Read more: Immigrants and Allies Show Boehner What Happens When "It's Not Going to Happen"

Ninth annual State House event features keynote by Boston College Law Professor Dan Kanstroom, comments by Senator Eldridge and others

T-Day2013_WEB2Nov. 26, 2013 BOSTON — "Over one in four residents of Boston is an immigrant," said Boston Mayor-Elect Marty Walsh this morning at MIRA's annual Thanksgiving Luncheon. That's why, he stressed, he had  come to the State House to speak before an audience of over 400 immigrants, legislators, and community-based organizers and advocates committed to immigrant rights and integration."Together, we can create a Boston Integration Agenda to work on citizenship initiatives, workforce development, professional re-credentialing and easing entrepreneurial ventures," Walsh said.

Followed by a bustling pack of photographers, the incoming mayor spent much of the event demonstrating his commitment to the New American demographic to which he himself belongs ("New Americans" are measured as immigrants plus the children of immigrants). Mr. Walsh took time before the event to stand with MIRA employees and volunteers to serve guests a turkey dinner with all the fixings. Aside from declaring his support for a Boston Integration Agenda, Mr. Walsh also mentioned his support for Citizenship program funding and In-State Tuition and Drivers License bills, and his opposition to the imposition of the "Secure                                                                                      Communities" immigration enforcement program.

Read more: Marty Walsh Supports Boston Integration Agenda at MIRA's Thanksgiving Luncheon

Award ceremonies include dinner with Congressman Luis GutierrezIMG_2495

Dec. 4, 2013 WASHINGTON – The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) announced today that the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

is receiving one of four 2013 E Pluribus Unum Prizes, given this year to four organizations from across the nation for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives.The national award honors MIRA’s New Americans Integration Institute for its work to help newcomers contribute more fully to the economic, civic and social fabric of the United States.                                      

Read more: MIRA Earns Award for Immigrant Integration Initiatives

"Tuition Equity Bill" would equalize in-state tuition rates for all graduates of Massachusetts high-schools

DSC_0998-001Dec. 11, 2013 BOSTON — "I don't know what to do with you," a local high school guidance counselor told Natalia Berthet, as they were meeting some years ago to discuss her future . Coming from a guidance counselor, it was another way of telling Berthet she could see no future at all.

That is why the 25-year-old Leominster resident shared her story yesterday with the Joint Committee on Higher Education, as they met to hear public testimony on Tuition Equity Legislation introduced in the legislature by Senators Chang-Diaz and Forry and Representative Provost. For almost two hours, the joint committee attentively listened to a wide range of testimony in support of the bills from State Legislators, Heads of Administration, attorneys, business and community organizations, secondary and post-secondary educators, and young immigrants like Berthet, many of who donned black graduation caps throughout the crowded hearing room.

Read more: State-House Hearing Provides Strong Support for In-State Tuition Bill