News & Events

Homeland Security flip-flops on need for "Memorandum of Agreement"

Friday, August 5, 2011, BOSTON — In an exceedingly brief conference call with advocates today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that they are rescinding the Secure Communities (S-Comm) Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with states such as Illinois and New York that have expressed a desire to withdraw from the program.  As a practical matter, this will have no impact, and DHS intends to continue operating S-Comm in those jurisdictions in which the program is already active.  Their posi
tion remains that this program is mandated by federal law — which is not true — and that the MOAs are not necessary.  DHS was not clear on whether they will expand in those states, but is still holding to their stance that the program will be mandatory nationwide in 2013.

“This is a slap in the face to states that are properly more concerned about enforcing criminal law than civil immigration law,” said Sarang Sekhavat, Federal policy Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.  “It is clear that DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been misleading the public and state and local officials about this program from the start.  Now they are continuing to force a program onto states that recognize its fundamental flaws. This is a situation which cannot and should not be tolerated.”

All testify in favor of equal in-state tuition rates for grads from MA high schools

audience3Wednesday, July 20, 2011, BOSTON — "I realize I'm not on the list to testify," said Governor Patrick, as he came to the center of a packed State House hearing room this morning and took a seat among a surprised panel of educators. "But I submitted written testimony and I had a minute, so I just wanted to come by to, um, support that support."

The wording drew a laugh, but the sentiment accurately reflected the fervor of all the testimony heard today by the Joint Committee on Higher Education in favor of House and Senate bills that would allow undocumented immigrant youth to pay the same in-state tuition as their high school classmates. Currently, between 300 and 400 undocumented students every year are charged out-of-state rates, despite having gone to Massachusetts schools for at least three years and earning their high school diplomas here. Since these students are also ineligible for any form of government aid, the out-of-state rate makes college completely unaffordable for practically all of them. As Governor Patrick noted, the bill points out the choice between "enabling a permanent underclass, and creating real opportunities...It's time to fix the law."

Read more: Educational Opportunity Hearing Packed with Supporters, Including Gov. Patrick

Advocates Encourage Mayor Menino to Withdraw from Secure Communities

Mayor commended for swift attention to program's dangers

mayorMonday, July 11, 2011 BOSTON — The Boston Globe reported today that Mayor Thomas M. Menino will withdraw Boston from "Secure Communities" if the federal government cannot demonstrate that this controversial immigration enforcement program is doing the job it promised. The federal government's own figures belie its claim that the program's main function is to deport dangerous criminals. As the Globe reported last week, "Federal statistics show that 183 of 352 immigrants deported from Boston since 2008 - or about 52 percent - had no criminal record, much higher than the national average of 29 percent."

Advocates throughout the city today commended Mayor Menino for his announcement, expressed in a public letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security's Secure Communities task force.

Read more: Advocates Encourage Mayor Menino to Withdraw from Secure Communities

Immigrant Advocates Applaud Final Budget
and Legislative Action

Eight of nine anti-immigrant amendments removed from budget; most line-items level funded; anti-trafficking bill passes Senate

Thursday, July 1, 2011. BOSTON — This morning the Massachusetts legislature is voting on the final version of the state budget, which was passed on by the conference committee last night. By and large, the budget backs away from anti-immigrant language and supports programs crucial to the health and integration of the foreign-born. Eight of the nine anti-immigrant amendments that passed the State Senate this spring have been removed, leaving only the provision requiring those receiving MassHealth to have their immigration status verified through the SAVE program — a verification process that was already being implemented before this language was written.

Read more: Immigrant Advocates Applaud Final Budget  and Legislative Action

House Continues to Attack Immigrants, Economy with Mandatory E-Verify Bill

Wednesday, June 15, 2011. BOSTON — Represenatative Lamar Smith today introduced the Legal Workforce Act, legislation that would require all employers to use the badly flawed electronic employment eligibility verification system known as “E-Verify”.  This system and the database it uses are so full of errors that mandating the program would send an estimated 770,000 legal workers to the unemployment line, unable to obtain new work because of the errors in the system. Mandatory E-Verify would send an additional 3 million legal American workers, most of them US Citizens, to their local Social Security offices to correct mistakes in their files. Many of these people would have to make multiple trips to Social Security in order to bring the necessary documents. The resulting loss of wages would cost American workers hundreds of millions of dollars in income at a time when many families are struggling to get by. To add insult to injury, the bill would even limit the legal remedies of the millions who would be wrongly fired because of errors in the system.

Read more: U.S. House Leadership Continues to Attack Immigrants, Economy