State Legislative Session Ends, with Victories and Advances for Immigrants and Refugees
The state legislature gaveled out just after 10am Monday, effectively ending the two-year session. While we’re disappointed with legislative inaction on key bills, we celebrate the major victories that demonstrate the growing political power of immigrant communities on Beacon Hill.
Here’s a roundup of this session’s legislative advances for the Commonwealth’s immigrants and refugees, brought to you by immigrant rights organizations and legislative allies across the state.
Passage of the Work and Family Mobility Act, a historic victory delivered by the Driving Families Forward Coalition, under the decisive leadership of the Brazilian Worker Center and SEIU 32BJ. Easily surviving Governor Baker’s veto, the new law opens the standard Massachusetts driver’s license to all qualified drivers regardless of immigration status, and will take effect in July 2023. The coalition victory also opens the door to state action on a range of legislative initiatives benefiting those most impacted by our unjust immigration system.
$1 million for the New American Voters Grant Program, a new program to support language access and outreach for municipal elections, adopted in the FY23 budget. Led by Mass Voter Table with MIRA support.
Legislative victories are achieved in increments, and this session also saw a number of pro-immigrant bills referred to Ways and Means—a sign of growing support in the legislature.
This November we’ll have the opportunity to elect a governor who is more supportive of pro-immigrant legislation, eliminating the veto threat and the need for supermajority support in the legislature.
With an eye toward the future, MIRA has already begun consulting our member organizations to determine our priorities for the new session. Please save the date for our all-member virtual meeting on November 16th!
MIRA is incredibly grateful for the work of all our member and partner organizations, and the many coalitions that made these successes possible.
Deep thanks also to the legislative sponsors who championed these initiatives, and to our many legislative allies for your continued support, including Senate and House leadership. We look forward to working with you next session!
—Amy Grunder, Director of State Policy and Legislative Affairs
MIRA’s New American Integration Program is recruiting its next cohort
Do you know someone who is interested in gaining skills while serving refugees and immigrants? The New American Integration Program (NAIP) aims to increase community organizations’ capacity to support immigrant integration across our Commonwealth while also building a multicultural leadership pipeline of skilled and passionate providers, educators, interpreters, and leaders.
To help knock down the most immediate hurdles, NAIP trains and places AmeriCorps members to provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instruction, job readiness training, and citizenship services at community-based organizations across Massachusetts.
AmeriCorps members make an 11-month commitment to serve full-time from September 7, 2022 until July 31, 2023. Those selected will receive the following benefits:
Up to $20,000 living stipend
$6,345 Education Award upon service completion
Monthly T Pass
Deferment of Education Loan Payments
To learn more about the application process, host site partners or to recommend someone to this year’s cohort email NAIP@miracoalition.org. Thank you for sharing this opportunity with your networks!
MIRA is looking to fill out our Political Team by hiring 3 new full-time organizers – a Lead Organizer, a Field Organizer, and a Digital Organizer. These can be remote positions as we are looking for people from the community to be spending their time working in the community, not in the office.
MIRA is also looking for an Access & Resources Specialist to join our team. They will work in collaboration with the Programs and Policy teams to build knowledge on immigrant access to systems; create resources and lead trainings.
Do you need assistance with U.S. Citizenship applications? Our Citizenship team is holding both in-person and virtual clinics at the following dates and times (registration required- reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 617-350-5480 ext 200):
Saturday, August 6 (in person-Codman Square Library)
Virtual appointments are also available!
Registration is now open for MIRA’s 40-Hour Basic Immigration Law Course! It will be offered in a hybrid model, starting on October 3. More information and the link to register are available on our website here.
Organizational Sign-Ons Needed: The Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act, bipartisan legislation that promotes the workforce inclusion of internationally trained immigrants and refugees, has been gaining momentum in Congress. The House of Representatives voted to include the Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act in the National Defense Authorization Act for two consecutive years, and the Senate just passed the bill in June. Help us get the bill through the final stretch by urging Congress to pass this legislation. Please add your organization’s name to this growing list of supporters by August 12.
MIRA’s 40-Hour Immigration Training
MIRA is pleased to announce that we will once again hold our 40-Hour Basic Immigration Law Training this fall. The training will run for three weeks beginning on October 3 and will be hybrid. You can view a tentative schedule here.
This intensive training is open only to non-profit staff seeking DOJ accreditation and attorneys seeking to increase their knowledge of immigration law, and follows a curriculum designed by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to give practitioners the basic knowledge they need to apply for DOJ accreditation and serve the community. If you are not non-profit staff seeking accreditation or an attorney, please contact us before registering so we can help you determine if this training is appropriate for you. The training will feature legal experts in various aspects of immigration law.
WGBH: Poll – Majority of Mass. residents support immigrant-license law in face of repeal bid
Politico: Biden wants an industrial renaissance. He can’t do it without immigration reform.
LA Times: More than a million could die waiting for green cards as U.S. immigration buckles amid COVID
– MIRA Member Spotlight-
Each week, we’ll be using this space to spotlight our outstanding MIRA members and the work they do for their communities. This week, we’re highlighting the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute!
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) provides statewide advocacy and leadership in advancing laws, policies, and practices that secure economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities.
MLRI’s goals are to: address public and institutional policies and procedures that either contribute to, or perpetuate, the cycle of poverty; ensure that low-income and underserved populations across the state are provided the same legal protections, rights, and liberties enjoyed by all members of society; and provide local legal services providers and community-based advocacy organizations that serve low-income people with the substantive expertise, technical assistance, and support they need to best serve their clients.