Support a Massachusetts Immigration Agenda in 2021–2022

With the launch of a new legislative session and a federal administration that welcomes hardworking immigrant families, the Massachusetts Legislature has a fresh opportunity to complete unfinished business and address longstanding barriers to access, safety and inclusion for immigrant and refugee state residents. (Docket numbers will be updated with bill numbers once bills are assigned to relevant Joint Committees.)

1. The Safe Communities Act, sponsored by Reps. Ruth Balser and Liz Miranda (H.2418) and Sen. Jamie Eldridge (S.1579). The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the impact of decades of state and local involvement in deportations—undermining testing, treatment and contract tracing efforts in immigrant communities and impeding access to court and police protection. The Safe Communities Act would restore confidence in local institutions by ending the use of our public safety resources for federal immigration enforcement.

2. The Work and Family Mobility Act, sponsored by Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Christine Barber (HD.448) and Sens. Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez (SD.273), would extend eligibility for Massachusetts standard driver’s licenses to all qualified state residents, regardless of immigration status. This bill ensures that all drivers are trained, licensed and insured, and removes unlicensed driving as a key entry point to the deportation pipeline. Sixteen other REAL ID-compliant states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, already issue licenses to all qualified residents.

3. An Act Relative to Enforcing Federal Law, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Cabral (HD.3906), would end the use of scarce state and local resources for 287(g) agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Currently under legal challenge as violations of state law, these contracts deputize state and county law enforcement personnel as federal immigration agents, at state taxpayers’ sole expense. Massachusetts is the only New England state with these contracts – the most extreme form of entanglement with ICE – and ICE has four here. The Safe Communities Act has a similar provision.

4. The Language Access and Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Adrian Madaro (HD.3674) and Sen. Sal DiDomenico (SD.2251). The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare our Commonwealth’s inability to provide desperately-needed information and services in languages other than English. This legislation would build the capacity of key public-facing state agencies to meet the language access needs of an increasingly diverse population by standardizing and enforcing language access protocols and practices.

5. The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Act, sponsored by Rep. Liz Miranda (HD.1283) and Sen. Becca Rausch (SD.699). Black and Latinx residents of Massachusetts have received the COVID-19 vaccine at rates far lower than the overall population, even though their death rates from the virus are three times higher than those of white residents. This legislation would address gross disparities in the vaccination rollout by expanding education and outreach, creating a mobile vaccination program, and requiring transparency regarding vaccine planning and implementation.


MIRA also supports these important bills that promote the wellbeing of immigrants and refugees:

EDUCATION & HEALTH CARE

HD.1890 / SD.120 – Higher Ed Equity Act (Reps. Moran and Madaro / Sen. Chang-Díaz). Ensures that all MA high school graduates have access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, regardless of status. Sen. Chang-Díaz’s bill also extends access to state financial aid.

HD.2945 / SD.1909 – Equitable Health Coverage for Children with Disabilities (Rep. Rogers / Sen. DiDomenico). Expands CommonHealth coverage to all children and low-income young adults with disabilities, without regard to status, providing coverage for crucial services and medical supplies.

HD.2932 /SD.1908 – The related Cover All Kids bill (same sponsors). Expands comprehensive MassHealth coverage to all children who are currently ineligible because of their immigration status. PROTECTIONS FOR IMMIGRANT SURVIVORS

HD.1160 / SD.240 – An Act Promoting Safety for Victims of Violent Crime and Human Trafficking (Reps. Nguyen and Haddad / Sen. Montigny). Streamlines the U-visa process for immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and other violent crimes.

REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT

HD.2448 / SD.2464 – An Act Creating a Refugee Resettlement Commission (Rep. LeBoeuf / Sen. Hinds). Establishes a commission to recommend ways to rebuild the infrastructure of refugee resettlement agencies and support the social, economic, and civic integration of refugees.

PROTECTIONS FOR FAMILY INTEGRITY & STABILITY

HD.1189 / SD.1660 – An Act relative to Caregiver Authorization Affidavits (Rep. Robinson / Sen. Jehlen). Updates the law on appointing temporary caregivers for children to better meet the needs of parents unable to care for them, including immigrant parents facing detention or deportation.

HD.1992 / SD.1886An Act to Increase Family Stabilization (Rep. Decker / Sen. DiDomenico), SD.140An Act Providing a Guaranteed Minimum Income to all Massachusetts Residents (Sen. Eldridge), and SD.1039 An Act Improving the Earned Income Credit for Working Families (Sen. Comerford). All four bills expand eligibility for the state earned income tax credit to immigrant taxpayers who file their annual return using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN.

LABOR PROTECTIONS

HD.967 / SD.774An Act to Prevent Wage Theft (Rep. Donahue / Sen. DiDomenico). Updates labor laws to ensure that subcontracting or outsourcing practices do not lead to wage theft and dangerous working conditions. Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to such exploitation.

HD.2576 / SD.1717An Act to Protect Injured Workers (Rep. Nguyen / Sen. Eldridge). Protects workers from retaliation when seeking rightful access to medical care and workers’ compensation, often experienced by immigrant workers.

BETTER DATA FOR BETTER SERVICES

HD.968The Data Equity bill (Rep. Chan). Requires state agencies to categorize the data they collect by ethnic group instead of broad racial categories, in order to discover differences in health, education, and other markers of community well-being, allowing resources to be directed where are most needed.