Urge Mass. legislators to support pro-immigrant budget items!

We won key budget victories in the House – now we move to the Senate.

We did it! Eight budget amendments targeting immigrants in Massachusetts were all defeated in late April when the state House of Representatives took up its budget for fiscal year 2018.

With the help of your calls and other advocacy, we were able to kill proposals to further restrict access to housing assistance and public higher education, and to penalize cities and towns with “sanctuary” policies or laws. Special thanks to our legislative allies in the House who fought against the eight proposals!

Please thank Rep. Byron Rushing (Boston) and Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (Boston) for mobilizing such a successful rout – and Rep. Marjorie Decker (Cambridge), Rep. Denise Provost (Somerville) and Rep. Antonio Cabral (New Bedford) for their impassioned defense of immigrants and other vulnerable state residents during the House debate.

The House budget adopted April 28 included about-level funding for MIRA’s four priority line items funding citizenship programs, domestic violence prevention and services, English and adult basic education classes, and employment readiness and training programs (ESSP) – though adult education got an increase of $300,000.

We look forward to the Senate budget release in May – and will advocate for greater funding for citizenship and other programs and fight any anti-immigrant amendments there!

Learn more about key budget items affecting programs that benefit immigrants and refugees ►

Learn more about the 3 budget amendments we prioritized in the House:

1. Citizenship for New Americans Program (CNAP); line item 4003-0122; amendment sponsored by Representative Cabral.

CNAP helps eligible low-income Green Card holders acquire citizenship, providing legal assistance and integrated English and civics classes, and giving applicants a stunning 89% success rate on the naturalization exam. Demand for citizenship services has grown exponentially since the November election, but funding remains stalled at pre-2009 levels. Federal funding is also at risk, making providers more reliant than ever on state and private sources. This amendment requests a modest $100,000 funding increase to meet this demand.

2. Adult Basic Education/English for Speakers of Other Languages (ABE/ESOL); line item 7035-0002; amendment sponsored by Representative Koczera.

ABE/ESOL programs are positively linked to higher levels of economic success, employment, and wages. Although immigrants comprise nearly 19% of our workforce, and have higher rates of economic participation than native-born residents, much of this activity is confined to low-wage service industries. ESOL classes for adult learners are under-resourced and in short supply, with 18,000 waitlisted students. This amendment would increase funding for Adult Basic Education programs to $31.5 million (an increase of just over $3 million) to promote workforce integration for new Americans and other adult students.

3. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services (including targeted services for immigrant and refugee survivors); line item 4513-1130; amendment sponsored by Representative Hunt.

This budget line funds a range of services for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, including services for immigrant and refugees formerly administered through the RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Safety and Empowerment) program. Immigrant residents of the Commonwealth have historically been twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence homicide as native-born residents, and the aggressive expansion of federal immigration enforcement has created a chilling effect on reporting by witnesses and victims of abuse, inviting impunity for perpetrators and risking increased fatalities. These services save lives by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate crisis intervention and safety planning, targeted outreach, legal services, advocacy with law enforcement, courts and social services, and provider training.>

Contact Amy Grunder, Director of Legislative Affairs
617-350-5480 x222, agrunder[at]miracoalition.org

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