News from MIRA

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

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"