News & Events

At Our Shared Table, a moment to give thanks – and a call to action

Hundreds of immigrants, refugees, advocates and public officials gathered for ‘one of the best things done at the State House’ – a Thanksgiving meal together.

Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, our emcee, spoke about her experience as the child of Haitian immigrants.

BOSTON, November 21, 2017  “I stand before you as a child of immigrants,” Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry said as she welcomed guests to Our Shared Table, MIRA’s 13th annual Thanksgiving luncheon at the State House, on Tuesday.

Like so many in the room, her parents came looking for a better life and new opportunities. They came from Haiti, but one of the great things about this country is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, she said. “When we come to these shores, we are all Americans.”

MIRA hosts Our Shared Table as a way to bring together immigrants and refugees – including newly sworn-in U.S. citizens – with public officials and advocates, providing a warm and friendly setting to get to know one another, share stories and find common ground.

“It’s one of the best things done at the State House,” said, Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. “Let’s be real: We’ve got to talk, and if we want to talk, we’ve got to get together like this.”

Read more: At Our Shared Table, a moment to give thanks – and a call to action

Coalition celebrates a victory for students across Massachusetts

Classroom-photoThe LOOK bill will enable schools to tailor programs to the diverse needs of English learners, and will encourage kids to fully master two languages, a huge asset in a global economy.

BOSTON, November 15, 2017 – The Massachusetts Legislature tonight approved the Language Opportunity for Our Kids (LOOK) bill, greatly expanding options for English learners in the Commonwealth’s public schools and creating a new Seal of Biliteracy that will help students compete in the global economy.

English learners are the fastest-growing population in Massachusetts schools, doubling since 2000 to more than 90,000 students, or about 9.5% of total enrollment. Some are immigrants, but 82% of them are U.S. citizens, and they live throughout the state: 90% of school districts have at least one English learner.

Read more: Coalition celebrates a victory for students across Massachusetts

We must all stand together to save TPS for Haitians and Central Americans

Mattapan demonstration to save TPS, November 5, 2017Haitian TPS holders from the Boston area rally to save the program, which covers more than 4,700 Haitian citizens in Massachusetts. A decision on TPS renewal for Haiti is due on November 23.

Update, November 9, 2017: This article was written before we obtained TPS enrollment data, national and state-specific, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The official data show much higher TPS numbers than previously reported, including 86,163 nationwide for Hondurans (834 in Mass.) and 5,349 for Nicaraguans (17 in Mass.). For a detailed outline, see our 2-page factsheet.

BOSTON, November 7, 2017 – Yesterday, Elaine Duke, Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua, effective January 5, 2019, and postponed a decision on TPS for Honduras, triggering an automatic six-month extension.

MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona issued the following statement in response:

“We are deeply disappointed by Secretary Duke’s decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans. Although this is a small population, just over 2,500 people, the affected families are well established in the U.S., with homes, jobs and businesses, and children born and raised entirely in the U.S. Forcing them to return to Nicaragua, a very poor country that was hit hard by Tropical Storm Nate, will cause needless suffering in our communities.

Read more: We must all stand together to save TPS for Haitians and Central Americans

A victory in Salem for common-sense police practices

BOSTON, November 8, 2017 – Yesterday, citizens in Salem approved Question 1 by a 6,756 to 5,030 vote, upholding the city’s “Sanctuary for Peace,” which codified existing city and Police Department policies that protect the rights of all Salem residents, regardless of immigration status.

This is excellent news for Salem and for all of us in Massachusetts who believe that everyone should feel safe and welcome in their community. The ordinance upheld by voters today embodies good common-sense police practices. We need everyone to feel safe calling 911 and interacting with the police, without fear that they’ll be turned over for deportation.

Today’s vote is a testament to the strong values of Salem residents and the vast majority of people in our Commonwealth. We welcome immigrants here, and are not easily swayed by the forces of bigotry and xenophobia.

At the same time, the fact that Question 1 even made it onto the ballot highlights the need for statewide legislation like the Safe Communities Act. Civil rights and public safety shouldn’t have to depend in a small local referendum. They should be the law of the land.

Foreign-trained doctors, nurses seek to reduce barriers to practice

Foreign-trained health professionals hearingDr. Skarlleth Cuevas testifies before the Joint Committee on Public Safety as Dr. Laith Almatwari and Dr. Afsaneh Moradi look on.

One of MIRA’s top priorities this session is to pass a bill to set up a commission to address barriers to licensure for health care professionals, so they be deployed in high-need areas.

BOSTON, October 24, 2017 – Dr. Afsaneh Moradi was a family physician in her native Iran, but when she came to the United States, the best job she could get was as a cashier.

After five years of study to pass her exams, and countless hours of volunteering, she now works in research and provider education, at Cambridge Health Alliance. But she still hasn’t been able to return to her passion: treating patients.

“It would be a blessing to practice anywhere that allows me to make a difference in my patients’ lives,” Dr. Moradi told the Joint Committee on Public Health today. It would be even more meaningful, she added, if she could apply her skills to serving low-income communities and immigrants.

Across Massachusetts, more than one in five foreign-trained health professionals like Dr. Moradi – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, dentists, etc. – is jobless or underemployed, held back by costly licensing requirements, language barriers, lack of targeted career services, and other factors.

Read more: Foreign-trained doctors, nurses seek to reduce barriers to practice