News & Events

A crucial victory for immigrants and civil rights in the Mass. Senate budget

A group photo in the Senate chamber after a hard-fought victory: Arline Isaacson, Joel Rivera from MIRA, Cindy Friedman from JALSA, Amy Grunder and Eva Millona from MIRA, Senators Jamie Eldridge, Sonia Chang-Diaz and Sal DiDomenico, Gavi Wolfe and Laura Rótolo of the ACLU; Aaron Agulnek of JCRC, and Eldridge comms director Peter Missouri.

Last night, after a thoughtful and substantive debate, the Massachusetts Senate voted 25–13 to approve Sen. Jamie Eldridge’s amendment #1147, which adds four key protections for immigrants to the state budget for FY2019.

In particular, the amendment bars police from asking about people’s immigration status unless required by law; ends 287(g) contracts that deputize state and local law enforcement as ICE agents; requires that immigrants be notified of their due-process rights; and ensures that Massachusetts does not contribute to any registry based on religion, ethnicity, citizenship or other protected categories.

The Senate then voted 25–13 to reject an amendment that included the same provisions, but also would have authorized police to detain immigrants for ICE, undoing the gains of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Lunn v. Commonwealth decision last year.

“Tonight the Senate took a strong stand for Massachusetts values,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of the MIRA Coalition. “The four provisions included in Senator Jamie Eldridge’s amendment will make our communities safer by ensuring that all residents know they can speak to police without fear. At a time when our federal government is tearing families apart, tonight’s votes send a powerful message that in our Commonwealth, we value and welcome immigrants.”

“We are deeply grateful to Senator Eldridge for his passion and persistence; to Senate President Harriette Chandler and Ways & Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka for their strong leadership; and to every one of the 25 Senators who voted to protect Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents,” Millona added. “We are proud to have principled, courageous elected officials who do the right thing even when it is difficult.

“We hope that the Conference Committee will adopt these important provisions when it reconciles the House and Senate versions of the budget. We are confident that leaders from both sides recognize how crucial these protections are, and look forward to seeing them enacted into law this year.”