News & Events

New ‘public charge’ rule would shut out working-class immigrants and harm millions of families

The rule, which goes into effect Oct. 15, would deny green cards or immigrant visas to anyone deemed 'more likely than not' to use one of several safety-net programs someday, unless they earn over 150% of the federal poverty line. 

BOSTON – The Trump administration on Wednesday will publish a new rule that would curtail legal immigration by vastly expanding who can be denied a green card or visa because they are deemed at risk of becoming a “public charge.”

The rule, which goes into effect on Oct. 15, would redefine “public charge” – a person who depends on government benefits and thus may be turned away – to include not only immigrants who receive cash benefits or need long-term care, but also people with disabilities, those deemed to have limited earning potential, and participants in many “safety net” programs used by millions of working Americans. Overall, it would make it much easier to shut out anyone earning less than 250% of the federal poverty line ($64,375 for a family of four).

“This rule is a perfect example of the wanton cruelty and bigotry that drive this administration,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). “It accomplishes two hateful goals at once: to keep out immigrants who are not wealthy on arrival – mainly people of color – and to sow fear in immigrant families and deter them from accessing ‘safety net’ programs that help keep their children safe, healthy, nourished and learning.”

Read more: New ‘public charge’ rule would shut out working-class immigrants and harm millions of families

Mass. takes key step towards making the most of immigrant medical talent

State’s FY2020 budget creates commission to address barriers to practice for foreign-trained health professionals, deploy them in high-need areas.

Dr. Skarlleth Cuevas shows her tattoo
Dr. Skarlleth Cuevas, a Costa Rican immigrant, got this tattoo to remind herself that whatever job she’s doing now, she’s still a physician.

BOSTON, Aug. 1, 2019 – A new commission created in the FY2020 state budget that Governor Baker signed this week will help address our Commonwealth’s critical shortages of medical providers by identifying best practices to license and deploy foreign-trained health professionals.

Massachusetts has some of the best medical facilities in the world, but it also fails woefully to meet many people’s basic needs. Over 7% of state residents lack adequate access to primary care, dental care, or mental health services, including more than 500,000 low-income people in Greater Boston, Western, Central and Southeastern Massachusetts.

Yet we also have a lot of untapped talent: more than 8,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, mental health providers and other medical professionals who were educated abroad – over 20% of whom are jobless or underemployed because they’ve had difficulties getting licensed in the U.S.

An “outside section“ in the FY2020 budget directly addresses this issue by establishing a 23-member commission that will bring together all the key stakeholders – state agencies, hospital and health center leaders, professional organizations, educators, and affected clinicians – to tackle barriers to licensure, with the express goal of deploying these providers in underserved, high-need areas.

“This is exciting news for highly skilled immigrants and refugees in Massachusetts,” said MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “We are fortunate to attract highly accomplished people from all over the world, and we should do everything we can to enable them to thrive here. When we make the most of the talent in our communities, our entire Commonwealth benefits.”

Read more: Mass. takes key step towards making the most of immigrant medical talent

‘We will not waver’: MIRA, community leaders respond to Census decision

AG Healey speaks at MassCounts rally
“Today democracy won,” Attorney General Maura Healey said at a MassCounts rally on the State House steps.

BOSTON, June 27, 2019 – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a partial victory to challengers of the citizenship question in the 2020 U.S. Census, saying the Secretary of Commerce was legally allowed to add the question, but calling his rationale “contrived” and unsupported by the evidence. The Court thus remanded the case, leaving it up to the Secretary to offer up a new, credible reason for adding the question.

“The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “The explanation provided here was more of a distraction.”

“The Supreme Court rightly called out the administration today on its blatant misrepresentations about the citizenship question,” said Eva A. Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and Chair of the Statewide Complete Count Committee. “Though we wish that today’s decision had struck down the question once and for all, we will not waver.”

Read more: ‘We will not waver’: MIRA, community leaders respond to Census decision

MIRA, Dreamers and TPS holders hail historic U.S. House vote

Aminta Dream and Promise Act featureBOSTON, June 4, 2019 – The U.S. House of Representatives tonight approved the Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, which would provide permanent residency and a path to citizenship for more than 2.5 million immigrants across the nation, including over 45,000 in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts delegation was unanimous in its support, and as chair of the House Rules Committee, U.S. Rep. James McGovern was instrumental in laying the groundwork for a successful vote tonight. MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona celebrated this important victory:

“Tonight’s vote is historic,” she said. “It says, loud and clear, that Dreamers and TPS and DED holders belong in America – that this is their home as much as anyone’s, and they have a right to build their lives and pursue their dreams without fear that any day, they could be forced to leave. It’s been almost 9 years since the House first approved a DREAM Act, and not once since then has even a single chamber of Congress approved legislation to protect immigrants without harmful tradeoffs. That’s why this bill is so important.”

Read more: MIRA, Dreamers and TPS holders hail historic U.S. House vote

Immigration proposal doubles down on hard-right positions

BOSTON, May 16, 2019 – Today President Trump announced a new immigration proposal that reflects his long-standing priorities, including a shift from family-based to “merit-based” legal immigration, weakening of protections for asylum-seekers, and more investments in his border wall.

Based on the details reported so far, MIRA Executive Eva A. Millona has the following comment:

“The proposal outlined today offers no new ideas and no path towards the bipartisan solutions that our immigration system sorely needs. It would sharply curtail family-based migration, a pillar of our current system, depriving millions of Americans of the chance to sponsor their parents and siblings. It would limit protections for asylum-seekers, undermining human rights. It would do nothing to protect millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and other immigrants with deep roots in our country. And it would continue to militarize our southern border and extend the wall, a multi-billion-dollar symbol of fear and hate.

“Though we strongly oppose limits to family-based migration, we would be open to discussion of a ‘merit-based’ system to prioritize applicants for admission to the U.S. – but only if the system is actually designed to meet American employers’ need for workers with a wide range of skills and talents. If the plan follows the model of the RAISE Act, however, which the President has previously supported, it would set absurdly high standards that would exclude almost all applicants.

“It is clear that this is a political statement, not a serious attempt to address America’s immigration needs. The President is looking to 2020 and playing to his base. This plan is dead on arrival in Congress, but it does serious harm nonetheless, because it entrenches the President and his supporters in extreme positions once held only by the right-wing fringe. That could hinder bipartisan efforts well past 2020.”