News from MIRA

A crucial victory for immigrants and civil rights in the Mass. Senate budget


A group photo in the Senate chamber after a hard-fought victory: Arline Isaacson, Joel Rivera from MIRA, Cindy Rowe from JALSA, Amy Grunder and Eva Millona from MIRA, Senators Jamie Eldridge, Sonia Chang-Diaz and Sal DiDomenico, Gavi Wolfe and Laura Rótolo of the ACLU; Aaron Agulnek of JCRC, and Eldridge comms director Peter Missouri.

BOSTON, May 23, 2018 – Last night, after a thoughtful and substantive debate, the Massachusetts Senate voted 25–13 to approve Sen. Jamie Eldridge’s amendment #1147, which adds four key protections for immigrants to the state budget for FY2019.

In particular, the amendment bars police from asking about people’s immigration status unless required by law; ends 287(g) contracts that deputize state and local law enforcement as ICE agents; requires that immigrants be notified of their due-process rights; and ensures that Massachusetts does not contribute to any registry based on religion, ethnicity, citizenship or other protected categories.

The Senate then voted 25–13 to reject an amendment that included the same provisions, but also would have authorized police to detain immigrants for ICE, undoing the gains of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Lunn v. Commonwealth decision last year.

Read more: A crucial victory for immigrants and civil rights in the Mass. Senate budget

Terminating TPS for Hondurans will uproot American families

BOSTON, May 4, 2018 – Today the Trump administration announced it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hondurans, with an 18-month delay, effective January 2020. An estimated 57,000 people across the U.S., including several hundred in Massachusetts, will face deportation.

Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA, issued the following statement:

“The decision to end TPS for Hondurans is not surprising, given that this administration had already deemed citizens of Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Nepal to no longer need special protection. But the fact that this fits a pattern doesn’t make it less disturbing.

“Anyone who follows the news knows that Honduras is deeply troubled, politically unstable, racked by violence, and with a struggling economy. Indeed, nobody knows better than U.S. immigration authorities, who see the desperation of asylum-seekers arriving at our southern border every day. Honduras is in no condition to take back tens of thousands of families, or to forgo the billions of dollars in remittances that U.S.-based workers send home each year. 

“Ending TPS for Hondurans will cause real pain in our communities. Honduran TPS holders have lived here for an average of 22 years and have an estimated 53,000 U.S. citizen children. These are American lives that are being destroyed.

“We urge our Congressional delegation to stand up to this administration’s hateful agenda and advance legislation to enable TPS holders to qualify for green cards. These are hard-working people with deep roots in our country. Congress needs to step in to correct this injustice and protect immigrant families.”

‘Defeating anti-immigrant amendments is not enough’

The House vote came just six days after a large demonstration by children and clergy to advocate for immigrant families.

BOSTON, April 26, 2018 – Yesterday afternoon, the Mass. House of Representatives defeated all proposed anti-immigrant amendments to the House Ways & Means budget. But the House also chose not to adopt new protections for immigrants.

Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA, the largest coalition in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees, made the following statement:

“We are relieved that the Mass. House of Representatives defeated all the anti-immigrant budget amendments that would have entangled police in civil immigration enforcement and punished cities and towns that protect immigrants.

“The strong, bipartisan roll-call vote (145 to 10) against one such proposal, Rep. Jim Lyons’ amendment #347, shows that in Massachusetts, there is no political will to enlist our police in the federal crusade against immigrants. The Supreme Judicial Court’s Lunn v. Commonwealth decision, which barred law enforcement from honoring ICE detainers, still stands.

“But defeating anti-immigrant amendments is not enough. Immigrants in our Commonwealth urgently need new legal protections. To do nothing in the face of grave injustice is unacceptable. We will continue the fight in the Senate.”

A show of strength – and a call to action at the State House

Alejandra St. GuillenAlejandra St. Guillen, director of the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, served as emcee. “Remember, this is your house,” she said – regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

The 22nd annual Immigrants’ Day at the State House was both a reckoning with the devastating impact of the Trump administration, and a reminder of the importance of state- and local-level action.

BOSTON, April 4, 2018 – The theme of the day was “Immigrants get the job done,” and dozens of black-and-orange posters offered proof in numbers.

1 in 5 workers in Massachusetts is an immigrant; 1 in 5 entrepreneurs, too; 59% of medical and life scientists. Immigrants in our state pay $8.4 billion in federal taxes each year, and $3.5 billion in state and local taxes. 7,100 workers are Salvadorans or Haitians with Temporary Protected Status.

And that’s just immigrants today. As Senate President Harriette Chandler put it, “Immigrants are not some other. Immigrants are us… Massachusetts has been built on the backs of immigrants from across the globe.”

Read more: A show of strength – and a call to action at the State House

Congress can’t leave Dreamers in the lurch as DACA ends

Paola with her sonPaola with her son. Read her #HumansofDACA post here.

Make no mistake: Young people are losing their work permits and legal protections every day now. Only Congress can avert this disaster. 

Paola, a student at MassBay Community College, had hoped to start nursing school this spring, but she was a nervous wreck, so she had to postpone her entrance exam.

She’d put herself out there – at rallies in Boston and in Washington, in her local paper, on the TV news – hoping to build support for Dreamers. She’d taken abuse online. But even with just weeks left until the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Congress had yet to step up.

So she went back to work, enrolled in two classes, and – taking advantage of a federal court injunction that reopened DACA renewals – she applied for two more years of protection. She also put her 4-year-old son on a plane to Bolivia, to meet her mother and sisters, whom she hasn’t seen in almost 15 years. As a DACA recipient, she’s not allowed to leave the country, but he’s a U.S. citizen.

“I cried when I dropped him off at the airport,” she said. “He asked, ‘Mommy why can’t you come with me? I want you to come with me.’ I thought, ‘How do I explain this to this little guy?’”

Read more: Congress can’t leave Dreamers in the lurch as DACA ends