Tuesday, September 23, 2014
   
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MIRA Blog

MIRA advocates for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and refugees. In partnership with its members, MIRA advances this mission through policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training and leadership development, and strategic communications.

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National Welcoming Week does Samba

This morning, MIRA's initiativeWelcoming Framingham’ organized a free 30-minute Carnaval Samba Lesson with a live drummer in front of the Framingham Memorial Building, as part of the National Welcoming Week celebrations across the country.

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Welcome to Welcoming Week 2014

Welcoming America is a national organization which promotes mutual respect and integration between foreign born and U.S. born Americans. This September marks the 3rd annual National Welcoming Week, organized by Welcoming America.

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Fast food workers and home care workers fight for $15 and the right to form a union

This morning  the MIRA Coalition joined fast food workers and home care workers who gathered in downtown Boston to fight for higher wages as part of the nationwide $15 Movement, which held  similar events  in over 150 cities across the country.

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"E Pluribus Unum," African Style

By CARA FOSTER-KARIM

Ethiopian_storeWEB"I came [to] America like everybody else who imagines America as a great nation," says   Yiheyis Derebew. “At first I worked as a parking lot manager at Logan Airport, but I was always looking for a way to introduce the great culture of Ethiopia to this country.” When Derebew arrived in Massachusetts in 1997, he was surprised to realize that Americans’ main impression of Ethiopia, and Africa in general, was one of famine, poverty, and desperation. Determined to set the record straight, he and his wife saved up enough until they were able to open their own business. Their store, Lalibela, is located on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge and sells Ethiopian clothing, jewelry, books, and traditional food items such as teff flour, spices, and coffee beans. In response to people’s misconceptions, he says, “I wanted to show that that was not the right picture of Ethiopia. It’s the only non-colonized country in Africa, with very nice weather, very good soil, and rich history and cultural traditions.” Although his store primarily serves Ethiopian and other African customers, Derebew says people frequently walk in off street, intrigued by the window displays, who have never even heard of Ethiopia.

Yiheyis Derebew is one of many African immigrant entrepreneurs in Massachusetts who not only contribute to the local economy, but also help to enrich their neighborhoods by sharing their culture. According to a recent Boston Globe article, immigrant-owned businesses in Massachusetts generate $2.8 billion in income annually, 14 percent of the state’s total. Immigrants are also twice as likely as native-born residents to start a business.

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Putting Inaction to Rest

By CASSIE SCHAUBLE

Funeral_RallyWEB1As many Democrats and Republicans have cautioned, those who prevent the passing of immigration reform often commit political suicide. Yet unfortunately, a large portion of Republican members of the House of Representatives seem to be digging their graves right now. Instead of taking up the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill, House Republicans together decided to take a piecemeal approach, and not to deal with the issue until after the long August recess.

In response to the House’s inaction, a New Orleans-style funeral procession—complete with an energetic jazz band quartet and makeshift coffin held high-- made its way on a recent Wednesday from the Massachusetts Republican Party Headquarters at North Station to the historic Granary Burying Ground. There rally-goers symbolically laid inaction to rest . Passersby paused to get a better look, and cars honked in support as a couple dozen marchers from community-based groups holding signs to “Keep Our Families Together!” This mock-funeral mourned the demise of a political party that has continued to ignore the pleas of America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

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Inna's Story: Building Her American Dream One Book at a Time

By Elizabeth Maguire, Citizenship Program Intern

Inna Ivers first came to the United States from Bulgaria 13 years ago as a library sciences student looking for work experience and to improve her English.

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What Part of “Now” Don’t You Understand?

LJULY10_RALLY_015webMEDast Wednesday in Washington, hundreds of families, DREAMers, and immigration reform supporters rallied on the steps of the Capitol chanting “si se puede.” Just inside, House Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, made the crippling decision to scrap the Senate’s resolution for reform, turning away from the human face of this debate to look only at fence lengths and border-patrol numbers.

On June 27, hope for comprehensive immigration reform made some real headway when a bill passed through Senate on a bipartisan vote. Both parties agreed on things like a flexible guest-worker program and providing more visas for highly skilled workers, as well as paving a path to citizenship. Democrats had hoped for a 70 vote victory in the Senate, and in the end they came up just two votes shy of their goal. With 15 Republicans voting for the bill, they proved that democratic compromise could work, creating a wave of optimistic momentum as the bill moved into the House. However, the price of the agreement was over-the-top border security, an endeavor that would cost nearly $46 billion.

Yet it still wasn’t apparently enough for Republicans in the House.

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Four for the Fourth

Tmarcus_santoso celebrate the Fourth of July, MIRA staff spoke to four New Americans about their perspectives on the immigrant journey, and about the plight of Aspiring Americans — the 11 million undocumented immigrants who this summer are hoping Congress will pass sensible and humane immigration reform. Here are their stories!
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A Message To Mira Members and Supports (AND clinic cancellation)

On this terrible day of tragedy and uncertainty in Greater Boston, we at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition extend our deepest condolences to the family of officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the line of duty yesterday. We also offer our hopes for a speedy recovery to those hurt, and our prayers for continued safety and security to all  residents of the Bay State.

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The Boston Marathon Bombing

MIRA sends its deepest condolences to the victim's of yesterday's heinous bombings at the marathon in our hometown, Boston.

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