Immigrant protections at risk in MA
Friends and equality defenders,
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the immigrant community is under attack and siege by the current presidential administration. Children are being ripped away from their parents and those who have sought refuge in the United States have been arrested at the border when they’ve come openly seeking assistance. The direction that this country is heading in is terrifying as the once proud democracy feels more like a tyranny. But, it doesn’t have to be that way in Massachusetts. We have a unique opportunity to create effective change and protect immigrant families, residents, and valued contributors to our commonwealth. We are called to a greater task of upholding the rights the most marginalized among us. If Massachusetts doesn’t do it, what does that say about us? Will we still be considered the civil rights advocates and defenders of the country or will we succumb to the status quo, while placing thousands of lives in jeopardy?
There is an extraordinarily urgent call to help immigrant families in the commonwealth and it must be done this week, as a critical deadline looms. LGBTQ immigrants, amongst others, come to this country in an attempt to survive situations otherwise impossible to overcome, often riddled by extreme poverty, violence, lack of resources to sustain their families or even punished by death for being a member of our queer community.
We have this one opportunity to pass key protections in the final FY19 MA State Budget Bill (included in the Senate version – Amendment 1147). Please call your state legislators, Chair House Ways & Means Jeffrey Sanchez, Speaker DeLeo and Governor Baker and tell them to include protections for immigrants in the final budget and pass them now. Some of you know exactly what to do to help. For others, please see below for info on whom to call and what to say.
One Week Remains
We only have a week or so remaining in the State Budget Bill negotiations. While this amendment will not fix federal immigration laws and the policies of this president’s administration, we do have the power to ensure key basic protections for immigrants and make it safer for all residents in the Commonwealth.
The FY19 Budget Bill is now in Joint Conference Committee (Ways & Means) and they will decide what elements from House & Senate versions are included in the final budget bill.
- Stop police inquiries about immigration status: Immigrants are vulnerable and often marginalized – they need to feel safe to go to the police if they fall victim or a witness to a crime. This protection also makes our communities safer.
- Provide Basic Due Process Protections to Immigrants: Ensure police inform persons of their legal rights to decline an ICE interview or to have their own attorney present.
- End and prohibit collaborative agreements between local law enforcement and ICE: Prohibit contracts with ICE that deputize and co-opt public safety resources for immigration enforcement and undermine community confidence in law enforcement.
- Refuse to contribute to any registries tracking residents by country of origin and/or by religion.
What to Do
- Call your State Representative and urge them to speak with House Speaker DeLeo about their support for including these immigrant protections in the final House-Senate Budget. Contact state representatives at (617) 722-2000.
- Call MA Speaker of the House DeLeo directly at (617) 722-2500 to ask for his support to include this amendment with these protections.
- Call Governor Baker at 617-725-4005. Tell him to stop playing politics with immigrant families and support protections for immigrants in the final FY2019 budget.
- Hashtag your social media posts echoing your support of the amendment with #StopPlayingPoliticsWithImmigrantFamilies,#MaPoli, and #BosPoli. Gov. Baker and Speaker Bob DeLeo can be found on Twitter at @CharlieBakerMA and @SpeakerDeLeo, respectively.
Important to Know
Governor Baker has declined meetings with Reps who have requested to discuss this amendment. He has also declined meetings with constituents. In press interviews, he has stated concern with lack of specificity in dealing with violent criminals, yet it has no restrictions in doing so. In fact, it should be noted the Major MA Cities Chiefs of Police endorsed the Safe Communities Act – this amendment only has a portion of its provisions.
To find your state legislators and their contact information go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator Immigrants and immigrant families count on you, on us.
On their behalf,
Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief
The Rainbow Times