News & Events

Decision on travel ban spares family members, students and workers

Somali refugees in KenyaWith a population of 350,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee complex. Some Somalis have lived here since 1991 and still depend on humanitarian aid for their daily needs. EU ECHO photo/Flickr

BOSTON, June 26, 2017 – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to examine whether President Trump’s travel ban was a legitimate exercise of executive power, and in the meantime, stayed two injunctions that had blocked the implementation of the travel ban.

In a careful attempt to balance competing interests, the Court only allowed the travel ban to be applied to foreign nationals who lack “any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

For individuals, the Court ruled, a “close familial relationship” is required. For entities, the relationship must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course,” such as a student’s admission to a U.S. university, an offer of employment, or an invitation to give a lecture.

All other citizens of the six designated countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen – may be barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The Court also upheld a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and a reduction of the annual cap from 110,000, as former President Obama had planned, to 50,000. In fiscal 2016, the U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees.

Read more: Decision on travel ban spares family members, students and workers

‘You have to come close to other people to see them’

Amira at World Refugee Day 2017Amira Alamry, a Syrian mother and former schoolteacher now living in Massachusetts, speaks at a World Refugee Day event at Boston City Hall, with her portrait in the background.

A City Hall exhibit and World Refugee Day event offer a glimpse behind the numbers.

BOSTON – The portraits are displayed in pairs: one life-size, the other a close-up, with a questionnaire in the middle that includes the subject’s name, the year of departure from Syria, and tidbits of daily life: fondest memory, favorite TV book, favorite TV show, hopes for the future.

We learn that Raed, who left Syria in 2013, loves the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, but also the lyrics of the Arabic-language singer Majida Halim El Roumi. Ali, who fled Syria in 2014, loves The Simpsons – but in English, not the German dub, which isn’t funny. He’d love to meet Angela Merkel.

Talar, who left Syria in 2012, misses school life and her friends, many of whom are still in Syria. Rawa’a, who was resettled in Canada, wants to make Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proud of the Syrians his country has welcomed. Oh, and she loves the phrase “How’s it goin’?”

Read more: ‘You have to come close to other people to see them’

Good news for Dreamers – but not for immigrant parents

Dreamer at IDSH2017Elias Rosenfeld, who was brought to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was 6 and is now a student at Brandeis University, spoke at Immigrants’ Day about his experience with DACA.

BOSTON, June 16, 2017 – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said yesterday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect – though a Homeland Security spokesman said today that the future of DACA “continues to be under review with the administration.”

Secretary Kelly’s update on DACA came on the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the program, a single line in a larger announcement that President Obama’s 2014 memorandum creating the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which has been blocked by court action, is being rescinded.

“We are pleased and relieved to see DACA continue at least for now, despite the president’s campaign promises to eliminate the program,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA. “Since DACA started, more than 7,900 Massachusetts residents have successfully applied, with huge benefits not only for these young people, but for our entire communities.”

Read more: Good news for Dreamers – but not for immigrant parents

A flood of opposition to deputizing law enforcement as ICE agents

The message from advocacy groups, legal experts, faith-based organizations and citizens was clear: let the federal government handle immigration matters.

Cabral witnesses crowd May2017Rep. Antonio Cabral (far left, next to Rep. Denise Provost) prepares to testify, backed by a roomful of supporters.

BOSTON, May 11, 2017 – State Rep. Antonio Cabral said he doesn’t want to debate immigration policy. “That is the responsibility of the federal government,” he told the Joint Committee on Public Safety on Monday.

Instead, the New Bedford Democrat urged the committee to support his two bills, H.3033 (An Act Relative to Enforcing Federal Law), and H.3034 (An Act Limiting the Use of Prison Labor), on fiscal grounds. “State dollars ought to be used for state programs, period,” he said.

The first bill would bar the use of state funds to implement “287(g)” collaboration agreements between Massachusetts sheriffs and correctional facilities and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Under those agreements, which have been signed by the Bristol County and Plymouth County Sheriffs and the state Department of Corrections, officers of those agencies are deputized to question people about their immigration status, arrest them for immigration violations, and start deportation proceedings.

Read more: A flood of opposition to deputizing law enforcement as ICE agents

On May Day, Congressman listens to concerns among immigrants and refugees

A dozen people brought together by MIRA talked about urgent needs and moral imperatives.

Congressman Kennedy with Eva Millona
MIRA Executive Director Eva Millona welcomes Congressman Joseph Kennedy at MIRA on Monday. Click to see more photos.

BOSTON, May 2, 2017 – Amira and her children came to Boston with just three suitcases and hope. She applied for asylum and got a work permit, which has enabled her to support her family. But progress on her case has been slow, and the wait has been nerve-wracking.

“I’ve been living in anxiety for three years,” she told Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy (D-MA 4th Dist.) on Monday. She can’t travel internationally, but doesn’t even dare leave the state, lest it somehow get her in trouble. “My children think that if I speed in the car, I might get deported.”

She hears her people described as a drain on U.S. taxpayers, even though she knows they’re working hard, even starting businesses. She hears Muslims equated with terrorists and ISIS. Her son, now 8, has been bullied in school. “Kids are telling him: You are a foreigner – you must go back.”

Amira was one of a dozen people that MIRA brought together in its office on Monday to talk with Congressman Kennedy about the challenges faced by immigrants and refugees right now.

It was clearly a subject close to the Congressman’s heart. He spoke with anger about the Trump administration’s “cold-blooded” strategy to target immigrants, and with deep compassion for immigrants and refugees. It is our “moral obligation”, he said, to help ensure that all people in our communities can achieve their full potential.

Read more: On May Day, Congressman listens to concerns among immigrants and refugees