News & Events

A victory in Salem for common-sense police practices

BOSTON, November 8, 2017 – Yesterday, citizens in Salem approved Question 1 by a 6,756 to 5,030 vote, upholding the city’s “Sanctuary for Peace,” which codified existing city and Police Department policies that protect the rights of all Salem residents, regardless of immigration status.

This is excellent news for Salem and for all of us in Massachusetts who believe that everyone should feel safe and welcome in their community. The ordinance upheld by voters today embodies good common-sense police practices. We need everyone to feel safe calling 911 and interacting with the police, without fear that they’ll be turned over for deportation.

Today’s vote is a testament to the strong values of Salem residents and the vast majority of people in our Commonwealth. We welcome immigrants here, and are not easily swayed by the forces of bigotry and xenophobia.

At the same time, the fact that Question 1 even made it onto the ballot highlights the need for statewide legislation like the Safe Communities Act. Civil rights and public safety shouldn’t have to depend in a small local referendum. They should be the law of the land.

Foreign-trained doctors, nurses seek to reduce barriers to practice

Foreign-trained health professionals hearingDr. Skarlleth Cuevas testifies before the Joint Committee on Public Safety as Dr. Laith Almatwari and Dr. Afsaneh Moradi look on.

One of MIRA’s top priorities this session is to pass a bill to set up a commission to address barriers to licensure for health care professionals, so they be deployed in high-need areas.

BOSTON, October 24, 2017 – Dr. Afsaneh Moradi was a family physician in her native Iran, but when she came to the United States, the best job she could get was as a cashier.

After five years of study to pass her exams, and countless hours of volunteering, she now works in research and provider education, at Cambridge Health Alliance. But she still hasn’t been able to return to her passion: treating patients.

“It would be a blessing to practice anywhere that allows me to make a difference in my patients’ lives,” Dr. Moradi told the Joint Committee on Public Health today. It would be even more meaningful, she added, if she could apply her skills to serving low-income communities and immigrants.

Across Massachusetts, more than one in five foreign-trained health professionals like Dr. Moradi – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, dentists, etc. – is jobless or underemployed, held back by costly licensing requirements, language barriers, lack of targeted career services, and other factors.

Read more: Foreign-trained doctors, nurses seek to reduce barriers to practice

Dreamers urge members of Congress to fight for a fair DACA fix

DACA lunch full groupThe three members of Congress discussed a DACA fix over lunch with six Dreamers who live in the Boston area.

The lunch with Representatives Kennedy, Murphy and Swalwell is part of a nationwide Dreamer Dinners campaign led by America’s Voice.

BOSTON, October 16, 2017 – They came to the U.S. from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Ireland and Japan. Several are in college, but others are in the work force; at least one is a major breadwinner for his family. They all have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – but they’ll start falling off the rolls as soon as next spring.

All yearn for Congress to pass legislation to let them stay in the U.S. and become full-fledged Americans. But none is willing to accept any deal that saves them at the expense of their loved ones. 

That is the tough reality that six Dreamers discussed today with three members of Congress: Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D–MA), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D–FL), and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D–CA), over lunch at Davio’s in Chestnut Hill. The group was brought together by America’s Voice, which has been organizing “Dreamer Dinners” to connect elected officials with DACA recipients.

Read more: Dreamers urge members of Congress to fight for a fair DACA fix

We will not be bullied by Operation ‘Safe City’

BOSTON, September 29, 2017 – Yesterday, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it had arrested nearly 500 immigrants nationwide, including 50 in Massachusetts, as part of Operation “Safe City.” The four-day campaign targeted cities and regions that limit police cooperation with ICE, or refuse to hold people on civil immigration detainers.

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

“This is blatant political propaganda. The Trump administration wants to intimidate states and local communities into rounding up immigrants for deportation, and they’re willing to ruin hundreds or thousands of lives just to scare and shame us.

There is not a police department, sheriff or court in Massachusetts – or in this country – that will not honor a criminal arrest warrant. If federal officials want to arrest anyone on criminal charges, native- or foreign-born, every police department in our Commonwealth will work with them. In fact, just in the last few months we've seen prominent cases of “sanctuary cities” such as Somerville, Chelsea and Lawrence work closely with federal agencies to target gangs and drug dealers.

Read more: We will not be bullied by Operation ‘Safe City’

A strong, unified response to DACA rescission – and a call to action

Dreamers poster at MIRA rally
About 300 people gathered outside Faneuil Hall to show solidarity for Dreamers and vow to fight for them and all immigrants.

At a MIRA press conference and rally, elected officials, community leaders, Dreamers and allies vowed to fight to protect young immigrants, from the federal to the local level.

BOSTON, September 5, 2017 – Today, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has enabled nearly 800,000 young people to come out of the shadows, attend college and work legally, will be phased out.

No new DACA applications will be accepted, but those already submitted will be processed, and anyone whose DACA benefits are set to expire between now and March 5 has until October 5 to apply for renewal.

President Trump said it’s now up to Congress to decide these young people’s fate. Several bills have already been filed – from the DREAM Act to the short-term BRIDGE Act. But at a press conference and a rally organized by MIRA yesterday, one message was loud and clear: We’re fighting back.

Read more: A strong, unified response to DACA rescission – and a call to action