Bilingualism is an asset, and Mass. schools should promote it
It’s time to free schools to teach English language learners in the ways that best meet their needs – and to enable high school graduates to earn a ‘Seal of Biliteracy’.
When children who don’t speak English enroll in a Massachusetts public school, they go into an English “immersion” program – not just to learn the language, but for math, science and all subjects. Their teachers are specially trained to work with “English language learners,” but by law, even if they speak a student’s native language, they can’t use anything but English in the classroom.
For some children, immersion works well, and they quickly learn enough English to succeed in school. Others struggle, however, and fall behind significantly in their education.
And whether or not they thrive in English, often students who were fluent in their native language when they arrived get “rusty” after a few years. They may still do fine in casual conversation, but struggle to read, write or use the language in a more formal setting.
Bills before the Massachusetts Legislature this session aim to change that.
MIRA is turning 30 this year, and we want you to be part of the celebration! Give Liberty a Hand is our main annual fundraiser, and this year, with our big anniversary, we’re making it extra festive.
Since 1987, MIRA has given voice to refugees and immigrants from all over the world who made their home in New England, raised families, built careers, started businesses, and become engaged citizens and community members. We have much to be proud of – and you have helped make it possible!
We have worked to defeat anti-immigrant legislation, and to advance policies and secure funding for programs that help immigrants and refugees. We have helped thousands of green card holders in becoming U.S. citizens, and registered thousands of new Americans to vote. We also train legal advocates for refugee children, and support a range of programs to help recent immigrants and refugees to learn English and adapt to American life. With so much at stake, your support is crucial!
Why now, more than ever, Boston needs an Immigrant Defense Fund
The Boston City Council is considering the creation of a fund to help residents going through immigration-related legal proceedings. MIRA’s Sarang Sekhavat explains why it’s so crucial.
MIRA Federal Policy Director Sarang Sekhavat addresses the Boston City Council. Click to see video of the hearing.
More than a quarter of Boston’s residents were born in another country. And while the vast majority are now U.S. citizens or green card or visa holders, many have family members who are undocumented – and any non-citizens could face deportation proceedings if they run afoul of the law, potentially even just for a misdemeanor.
In February, recognizing that under the Trump administration, immigrants will face much harsher treatment than under President Obama, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson proposed creating a city-sponsored defense fund to support legal challenges involving immigrants.
On Monday, April 10, the City Council’s Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities held a hearing on the proposal (watch the video). Sarang Sekhavat, MIRA’s federal policy director, testified in support of the fund. What follows is a lightly edited version of his testimony.
Take action to protect immigrant rights!
- Find online "Know Your Rights" resources in English, Spanish and other languages.
- Request a "Know Your Rights" workshop in your town or region.
- Learn what public health professionals can do to protect undocumented residents and their families.
- Find out actions school officials can take to protect undocumented students.
- Report bias incidents to the Attorney General's anti-harassment hotline.
- And check out MIRA's Facebook page for local events and actions.
1,500 immigrants & allies advocate for their priorities at the State House
Largest-ever Immigrants’ Day at the State House offers a powerful rebuke against bigotry
State Rep. Juana Matías, House sponsor of the Safe Communities Act, introduces the speaking program.
BOSTON, April 5, 2017 – About 1,500 immigrants, children of immigrants and their allies came together at the State House today to advocate for a Commonwealth where all people feel welcome to pursue their dreams and feel safe, regardless of where they were born.
This was the 21st Immigrants’ Day at the State House, and the largest to date. The annual event, organized by the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), brings the community to Beacon Hill to celebrate their contributions to the state’s economy, culture and civic life, and to speak with legislators about bills and budget items that are priorities for foreign-born residents.
“We knew to expect a big crowd, because people were eager to speak out against the bigotry and xenophobia that we’ve been witnessing,” said Liza Ryan, director of organizing at MIRA. “Still, it was awe-inspiring to see the Great Hall packed with people from all over the world who’ve made America their home, and who came to speak out for themselves and their communities.”
Make your voice heard and support safe communities!
From the Boston Tea Party to the anti-slavery and marriage equality movements, Massachusetts has been a leader on civil rights. Today we need to see that kind of courage on behalf of immigrants and Muslims in our communities.
The Safe Communities Act would protect the civil rights of all state residents by making sure our tax dollars are not used to help the Trump Administration deport immigrant families or create a Muslim registry. This powerful new version of the Trust Act is sponsored by State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (S.1305) and State Rep. Juana Matías (H.3269).