For the 22nd year in a row, MIRA organized Immigrants’ Day at the State House, the biggest lobbying day of the year for immigrants, refugees, and allies. After a brief speaking program, we fanned out through the building to meet with legislators and advocate for priority bills and funding for programs such as English classes and adult basic education.
Our theme this year was “Immigrants Get the Job Done.” We wanted to highlight the key role of foreign-born workers in some of Massachusetts’ top economic sectors, such as healthcare, technology, and hospitality, with business leaders and public officials joining us.
Our speaking program, which took place in the Great Hall, celebrated immigrants’ vital role in Massachusetts’ economy, with speakers representing government and our diverse immigrant communities:
- Alejandra St. Guillen, Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (emcee)
- Rosalin Acosta, Mass. Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development: watch video excerpt
- The Honorable Harriette Chandler, President of the Massachusetts Senate
- Andrea Campbell, Boston City Councilor
- José Palma, co-founder, Massachusetts TPS Committee: watch video excerpt
- Palloma Jovita, student, Framingham State University, and DACA recipient
- Claude Toussaint, student, graduate of the Haitian Multi-Service Center
Meeting with legislators
The most powerful aspect of Immigrants’ Day isn’t the speaking program, but the hundreds of immigrants and allies who fan out through the State House to meet with legislators and staff and advocate for pro-immigrant policies and crucial investments.
Only YOU know what’s most important to you: It may be English classes for adults, for which there’s now a 16,000+ person waitlist; it may be tuition equity legislation so undocumented students without DACA can also afford to attend state colleges and universities; it may be domestic violence programs. You may want to focus on reducing barriers to licensure for foreign-trained health professionals, or on expanding access to dental health care. Or you may want to focus on the Safe Communities Act.
We provided two documents to help grassroots lobbyists to prepare:
- Updated talking points and asks on Safe Communities, recognizing that the bill itself is unlikely to pass this year, but key provisions can still be adopted by other means, including the state budget.
- MIRA’s top priorities in the fiscal 2019 state budget, the House version of which is expected April 11. These include English classes, domestic violence programs and workforce development.