News & Events

For Thanksgiving, stories of hope, struggle and resilience in America

Damaris Velasquez of Agencia ALPHA
Damaris Velasquez, co-founder of Agencia ALPHA, was undocumented for 23 years. To those who still are, she said: “Don’t allow this broken system to try to define your identity.”

At Our Shared Table 2018, speakers urged immigrants and refugees to ‘dream big’ and define their own identity, while calling on elected officials to bring Massachusetts realities closer to its ideals.

BOSTON, November 20, 2018 – Iván Espinoza-Madrigal was 9 when he came to the U.S. from Costa Rica. His mother worked for minimum wage so he could get an education, and he was the first in his family to graduate from college, then from NYU Law School.

Now, as executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, he fights to ensure that millions like him can enjoy the same opportunities. Looking out at hundreds of immigrants and refugees gathered in the Great Hall of the State House, he praised them for “not just surviving, but thriving,” and he offered a call to action.

“It is important for all of us to join forces, because we are stronger together,” he said. “I know it can be exhausting, I know it can be demoralizing. But I also know that each of us has the capacity to protect ourselves and each other.”

Hope, unity and resilience were the central themes of Our Shared Table 2018, MIRA’s 14th annual Thanksgiving luncheon. More than 400 guests – overwhelmingly immigrants and refugees coming with their English classes – joined legislators and staff at the event, filling the room to capacity.

Read more: For Thanksgiving, stories of hope, struggle and resilience in America

An important reprieve for TPS holders – but Congress still must act

Haitian protester in January
A Haitian immigrant at a rally in January. More than 4,700 Haitians in Massachusetts have TPS and risk deportation as soon as next July.

BOSTON, October 4, 2018 – Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen granted a preliminary injunction preventing the federal government from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua.

The ruling, in a case filed last March by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other advocates, provides a much-needed reprieve for hundreds of thousands of TPS holders – especially those from Sudan, whose protection was scheduled to end on Nov. 2.

In Massachusetts, more than 6,000 Salvadorans and 4,700 Haitians face deportation as soon as next July once their TPS ends – even though they’ve lived here lawfully for at least 15 years, and many have U.S. citizen children.

In his ruling, Judge Chen cited multiple statements by President Trump about immigrants of color and Muslims as evidence that TPS termination was “based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution.” The issues raised by the plaintiffs, he wrote, “are at least serious enough to preserve the status quo.”

MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona hailed the decision, but warned that it’s only a temporary victory.

Read more: An important reprieve for TPS holders – but Congress still must act

Business leaders launch coalition to advance sensible immigration policies

Tom O'Brien introduces the Mass. Business Coalition on Immigration.
Thomas N. O’Brien, managing partner of The HYM Investment Group, said the coalition will promote fair, predictable immigration policies that reflect the importance of global talent to our economy.

BOSTON, October 1, 2018 – Leaders from some of Massachusetts’ top business sectors came together today to launch the Massachusetts Business Coalition on Immigration, focused on advancing federal and state policies that enable talent from around the world to continue to thrive in our Commonwealth.

“From high tech to construction, health care to hospitality, immigrants are vital to Massachusetts’ economy,” said Thomas N. O’Brien, managing partner of The HYM Investment Group, which hosted the launch event in its Boston offices. “The xenophobic agenda coming out of Washington poses a direct threat to our position as a global hub of innovation and productivity. As business leaders, we cannot stand on the sidelines.”

The new group was born out of conversations with MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. As employers increasingly feel the impact of Trump policies on their workforce, Millona saw an opportunity to mobilize together around common goals.

Read more: Business leaders launch coalition to advance sensible immigration policies

Mass. advocates vow to fight Trump administration effort to penalize working-class immigrants

Parent and child hold hands

A proposal to redefine ‘public charge’ would deny green cards to people who access key safety net programs – or whose jobs don’t pay high enough wages.

BOSTON, September 23, 2018 – The Trump administration yesterday released a proposed regulation that seeks to penalize legal immigrants for accessing programs that help working families with health care, housing and nutrition, or for holding low-wage jobs that don’t enable them to meet an arbitrary income threshold.

The draft regulations would vastly expand the definition of “public charge” – someone who is dependent on government benefits and thus may be denied a green card – to include not only people who receive cash benefits or need long term care, but also those who participate in numerous “safety net” programs used by millions of working Americans. It would also make it easier to deny permanent residency to anyone earning less than 250% of the federal poverty line ($62,750 for a family of four). 

“This proposal is a toxic blend of nativism and class warfare,” said MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “It is overtly discriminatory, and we will fight vigorously to ensure that it is never adopted.”

Read more: Mass. advocates vow to fight Trump administration effort to penalize working-class immigrants

An unconscionable betrayal of immigrants and their families

BOSTON, Aug. 14, 2018 – A court filing by the ACLU of Massachusetts in Calderon v. Nielsen reveals that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) personnel have actively collaborated with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to facilitate the detention and deportation of immigrants.

MIRA strongly encourages its members and concerned citizens to read the entire filing, which has prompted immediate condemnation from public officials (see letter from Congressman Michael Capuano).

Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA, responded with the following comments:

“The revelations in the ACLU’s court filing are deeply disturbing. We have come to recognize that at this point, ICE really is just ‘in the removal business,’ with little regard for public-safety priorities, much less the human impact of its actions. USCIS, however, has a very different mission. Every immigrant who enters this country, applies for a green card, or seeks U.S. citizenship goes through USCIS. And under our Constitution, they all deserve due process.

Read more: An unconscionable betrayal of immigrants and their families