Raise your Voice on Beacon Hill for Immigrant Justice!
Save the Date! Tuesday, April 14th raise your voice for immigrant justice at the MIRA Coalition’s Immigrants’ Day at the State House, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Meet with your state legislators and advocate for the Trust Act, the Safe Drivers Bill, tuition equity, Funding for English and Adult Basic Education classes, legal protections for survivors of abuse, health care access, Language Opportunities for Our Kids, expanded election participation, and protection from discrimination in state services. For more information or to register, go to http://www.miracoalition.org/en/events/immigrants-day or contact Thalita Dias, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-350-5480 ext. 205.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition is prioritizing advocacy for the following pro-immigrant bills in the current state legislative cycle:
- Safe Drivers Bill. (HD.2965, Jehlen, Farley-Bouvier, An Act relative to safe driving.) The Safe Driving Bill would make the roads safer for all Massachusetts residents by removing immigration status as a barrier to going through the licensing process. If passed, Massachusetts would allow all qualified residents to take the driver’s exam, buy insurance, and carry a valid driver’s license – making all residents safer on the roads.
- Hope for Abuse Survivors. (SD.61, Creem, An Act Relative to Special Juveniles; HD.517, Kafka, Relative to petitions to the Juvenile Court or Probate Court on behalf of certain special juveniles.) The Special Juvenile Bill would eliminate a technical loophole that prevents abused, abandoned and neglected immigrant youth ages 18, 19 and 20 from accessing state courts, a step they are required to take before they may apply to the federal government for a status called “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.”
- Trust between Immigrants and Law Enforcement. (SD.1698, Eldridge, For legislation to restore community trust in Massachusetts law enforcement; HD.3204, Carvalho, For legislation to clarify the responsibility of law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law.) The Trust Act would limit the impact of programs like “Secure Communities” (now the “Priority Enforcement Program”) which blur the line between local police and immigration officers, would rebuild trust between police and immigrants and would help protect localities from liability for violating residents’ constitutional rights.
- Language Opportunities for Our Kids. (SD.743, DiDomenico; HD. 2211, Sanchez, An Act for Language Opportunities for Our Kids.) The LOOK Bill would give schools flexibility they need to offer programs that help all students achieve English proficiency and to increase language-learning opportunities for native English speaking students, improving our education system and supporting a stronger workforce.
- Higher Education Equity. (SD.599, Chang-Diaz; HD.1035, Provost, An Act regarding higher education opportunities for high school graduates in the Commonwealth; and SD.690, Forry, Relative to the eligibility of students for in-state tuition rates and fees at public higher educational institutions.) These Higher Education Equity Bills would allow all students, regardless of immigration status, who attended a Massachusetts high school for at least three years and graduated or earned equivalency degrees to pay the same in-state tuition rates at public colleges as their fellow classmates. Additionally, SD.599 (Chang-Diaz) and HD.1035 (Provost) would remove immigration status as a barrier to qualifying for state financial aid.
- Health Care Access. (SD.557, DiDomenico and HD.2589, Malia, An Act improving the children’s medical security program and simplifying the administration process; SD.1349, Jehlen and HD.1023, Balser, An Act to Preserve Affordable Health Care for Massachusetts Residents; SD.656, Lewis and HD.1690, Farley-Bouvier, An Act to keep people healthy by removing barriers to cost-effective care; and SD.1601, L’Italien and HD.2709, Cronin, An Act to Ensure Continued Health Insurance Coverage for Children.) As part of the Affordable Care Today (ACT!!) Coalition, MIRA supports bills that would improve health care access for immigrants and all residents.
Local Choice to Expand Election Participation. (HD.377, Rushing, For legislation to enable cities and towns to extend voting rights in municipal elections to certain non-citizens of the Commonwealth.) This bill would allow city councils and local voters to decide if non-citizens could vote in municipal elections (for example, to vote for school boards that make decisions about their children’s education) and would eliminating the requirement that such proposals move through the state legislature as a petition for home rule.
Protection from Discrimination. (HD.2903, Rushing, An act ensuring equal access to services for all residents of the Commonwealth.) This bill would limit state agencies from inquiring about clients’ immigration status unless legally necessary.