Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

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MIRA BULLETIN: Quiet Good News vs.Shouting Bad: Wed. Feb. 15, 2012
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm
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MIRA Coalition
Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Dear Members and Allies,
Perhaps the most important recent news for immigrants in Massachusetts is the most seemingly mundane. Last week, the Commonwealth Connector began re-enrolling eligible immigrants into the regular state-sponsored health program, Commonwealth Care.(See below). This culminates a two-year fight to restore coverage for immigrants who were shut out of the system after the budget crisis of 2009. It once again brings Massachusetts closer to meeting the noble ideal of providing affordable, quality health care coverage for all its residents.
Unfortunately, this quiet conclusion comes on the heels of another loud set of anti-immigrant measures introduced in the Massachusetts State House, copying the onerous and punitive bills introduced in state legislatures across the nation.
That is one reason we are in the middle of a campaign with the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative (GBCI)  to help as many eligible immigrants as possible complete their citizenship applications — so that immigrants can represent their interests more powerfully and directly through civic participation. GBCI's third clinic, on February 4, was the initiative's largest yet, serving over 200 Legal Permanent Residents with the help of staff from six partnering organizations and dozens of volunteers. We hope you can help us top that number by spreading the word about our next clinic, at Notre Dame Education Center, 200 Old Colony Ave, South Boston (near the Andrew T Stop), on Saturday, March 3 from 11am to 2pm. Click here to register online, or call 617-65-READY for more information.
MIRA also plans to branch out with citizenship work state-wide in the coming months, and we will soon be alerting you about clinics for eligible Legal Permanent Residents  throughout the Commonwealth.
Yet another way to build power together is to save Thursday, May 31 from 6 - 8 p.m. for MIRA's major annual fundraising event, Give Liberty a Hand. Please visit our newly launched website to learn about all the exciting people and events that will form a part of our 25th anniversary celebration. Thank you as always for your support.
Eva A. Millona
Executive Director

February 4 Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative clinic, February 4, at SEIU 615
Federal Updates
USCIS to Hold Chinese-language Engagement Sessions
USCIS will conduct a national Chinese-language engagement (Jiao liú) session on Thursday, February 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m Pacific.as part of the ongoing series of multilingual public engagements. Each Jiao liú session focuses on an immigration-related topic and includes a presentation and Q&A session during which USCIS spokespersons provide explanations of the law, regulations, and forms, but do not offer legal advice or provide case specific information.

The first national Jiao liú session will promote the Office of Citizenship’s initiative: The Naturalization Process – Becoming a United States Citizen.  The event will be broadcast live from the San Francisco Field Office and stakeholders may participate via teleconference by calling 1-800-475-8388 (password: Jiao liú), or via live Web stream at http://www.uscis.gov/stream/
Live.  For further information on this event, please email Public.Engagement@dhs.gov and enter the word “Jiao liu” in the subject line. 

State Updates
Commonwealth Care Restoration for "Special Status" Immigrants

On Monday, February 6, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority began sending notices to persons currently enrolled in the Commonwealth Care Bridge program, informing them that they may enroll in Commonwealth Care as a result of the recent Supreme Judicial Court decision in Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority.

  • Individuals will be able to select a Commonwealth Care plan from February 13 - 24, with an effective coverage date of March 1.
  • To enroll in Commonwealth Care, persons in Bridge may either call the Connector or complete and mail a form, but will not be able to enroll via website. 
  • If you are currently enrolled in Bridge and do not select a Commonwealth Care plan between February 13 and 24, you will be automatically enrolled in CeltiCare's Commonwealth Care Plan on March 1.
  • "Special status" immigrants who were unable to receive Bridge coverage, because they were not enrolled in Commonwealth Care on August 31, 2009, will receive a notice from the Connector after March 26 informing them that they may enroll in Commonwealth Care.  At that time, persons will be able to enroll in Commonwealth Care by phone, mail or website, for an effective coverage date of May 1. 
  • If you are on the Bridge waitlist, it is important that you enroll in Commonwealth Care after you receive a letter from the Connector, as there will be no auto-enrollment for this population (unlike for those currently enrolled by Bridge).  If you do not enroll within 90 days of the date in your letter from the Connector, you will lose whatever state health coverage you may currently have (whether MassHealth Limited or Health Safety Net).
If you have questions about this process, or about whether you are a "special status" immigrant eligible for Commonwealth Care, you can call the MIRA Coalition's health care line at 617-350-5480 x222, or the Health Care for All Help Line at 1-800-272-4232.
Immigrant Legislation Hearings, Pro and Con

At the State House this week, MIRA stood for one bill and against another heard before their committees. To stave off anti-immigrant legislation,  MIRA submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in opposition to H 2189, "An act relative to bail factors," which would add "immigration status" to the factors that must be considered when setting bail. This bill would impose high costs to fully train courts on the complexities of immigration law, and could also violate defendants' Constitutional rights.

MIRA also submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on Transportation in support of H 3073, "An Act relative to commercial driver licensing," sponsored by New Bedford Representative Antonio Cabral.  This bill would 
direct the registrar of motor vehicles to provide commercial driver's license exams, when requested, in Portuguese and Spanish, as well as other languages if needed.  This bill represents a positive, constructive proposal to promote integration of Limited English Proficient immigrants in Massachusetts.

Hearing Scheduled for Anti-Immigrant Bill SB 2061

A hearing for anti-immigrant bill SB 2061 has been tentatively slated before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on Tuesday, February 28 at 1:00 p.m.  Hearings are open to the public, and anyone may submit written or oral testimony. Among its measures, the bill would:

  • Force the state report on the status of implementing the notorious Secure Communities program, and  force local police to perform federal immigration checks on anyone held in police custody.
  • Force small businesses and others contracting with the state to implement the flawed and expensive E-Verify immigration check system.
  • Permanently bar undocumented immigrant children who have graduated from Massachusetts high schools from receiving in-state tuition rates (changing the current regulation into a law)
  • Force the attorney general to  investigate any allegation that a worker is undocumented, no matter how spurious.
  • Force the Department of Revenue to produce official anti-immigrant propaganda on the "strain" caused by undocumented immigrants, with no mention of any possible benefits.
  • Evict families with undocumented members from state-sponsored public housing, even if those families include impoverished U.S. citizen children.
You can read more on this sweeping measure in our press release.  If you have questions about this bill or the process for testifying, please contact MIRA State Policy Director Shannon Erwin at 617-350-5480 x222.
MIRA Messages

Next Citizenship Clinic March 3
Saturday, March 3, 2012 • 11am—2pm
Notre Dame Education Center
200 Old Colony Ave • South Boston, MA

Register Today!

In collaboration with MIRA, the Fish Family Foundation and community organizations,  the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative will provide free application assistance for Legal Permanent Residents eligible to apply for US Citizenship.  To be eligible, you must:
  • Have had a green card for at least 5 years (3 years in certain limited circumstances);
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English (unless you qualify for an age exemption or a disability waiver); and
  • Have no serious criminal issue.
Applicants who are not able to afford the $680 application fee will receive assistance with a fee waiver application if they (1) receive means-tested benefits or (2) have a household income below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Enter to Win Prizes!

GBCI is pleased to announce that applicants who provide proof that they have submitted their application to USCIS will be entered into a drawing to receive either (1) paid citizenship application fees for you and a family members ($1360 total) OR (2) a gift card for $500 in groceries!

For informational fliers in other languages, please visit our website.
Member to Member
15th Annual International Women's Day Breakfast

Simmons College
Linda K. Paresky Conference Center
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ending Violence Against Women: Pathways to Power, Resilience & Leadership

Please RSVP at http://iwd2012.eventbrite.com
Suggested donation of $6 at the door

Commemorate International Women’s Day
Hosted by Association of Haitian Women
Guest Speaker
Natacha Clerger, US Army/USAR

Mèt Kò Veye Kò:  Defann Tèt Ou
Protecting Your Body:  Self Defense
Saturday, March 10, 2012
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Boston Public Library/Mattapan Branch
1350 Blue Hill Ave
Mattapan, MA 02124

Refreshments will be served
For more information please call AFAB at (617) 287-0096

Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) Hosts Public Office Workshops
The Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS), in partnership with MassVOTE and with support from the CPCU Credit Union, is pleased to invite you to participate in Ready, Set, Run! – a new 4-part workshop series designed to train community leaders on how to run for public office. We think this is an important way to build Portuguese-speaking leadership capacity and empower our communities. The workshops will be held at the MAPS office at 1046 Cambridge Street in Cambridge on 4 consecutive Tuesdays in March, from 7-9 pm, beginning Tuesday, March 6th. The registration fee is $50.00 per person.
Workshop Schedule:
Session 1: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Why run for office? What does it take to win?
Session 2: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
How many votes does it take to win?
Session 3: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
How do I get volunteers and campaign money?
Session 4: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
What's my message? How do I get elected and keep everything organized and legal?

For more information and to register visit www.maps-inc.org or contact Deolinda Da Veiga at (617) 864-7600 or by e-mail at dveiga@maps-inc.org

The Anti-Defamation League Sponsors 5th Annual 'A Nation of Immigrants' Community Seder
Sunday, March 11, 2012
UMASS Boston

For more information, contact jlockenwitz@adl.org or call 617-406-6364.
Sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, New England

How to Start a Small Business Information Session
Hosted by The Workplace
Tuesday, February 21

11:00 am sharp
29 Winter Street 4th Floor
Downtown Boston 02108

Space is limited. You MUST sign up to reserve a seat!
(617) 737-0093 x 3001- www.theworkplace.org

Starting and managing a business takes motivation, desire and talent. It also takes research and planning. Come learn how the U.S. Small Business Administration can help you achieve your goal starting and expanding your business. General information will be provided on the following programs and services:
  • SCORE – Counselors to America’s Small Business
  • Small Business Development Centers
  • Women’s Business Centers
  • SBA Loan Guaranty Program
  • 8(a) Business Development Program
  • HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zones) Program
  • Government Contracting Opportunities

Seeking Volunteers to Teach Conversation Groups
St. Mark Community Education Program is a community-based ESOL and Citizenship program for adult immigrants, offering 5 ESOL classes, evenings and weekends to serve working adult immigrants.  The Citizenship program, in partnership with the Irish International Immigrant Center, offers a Saturday morning class to help applicants with the literacy skills, speaking skills, and knowledge of U.S. history and government necessary to pass their Citizenship interviews. 
In addition, the St. Mark Community Education Program is offering volunteer-run Conversation Groups on Thursday evenings 7-8:30pm and Saturday mornings 10-11:30am.  These groups provide more opportunity to learn and practice English for students in the classes and provide a place for any community members to learn and improve their speaking and listening abilities in English. If you are interested in teaching adults and supporting immigrants in our communities, please contact Donna Kaye, Executive Director, at 617 288-8515 or stmarksesol@yahoo.com.

Job Opportunities
AmeriCorps New American Integration Program Positions Available
A Partnership of the MA Office for Refugees and Immigrants, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and English for New Bostonians
The New American Integration Program recruits committed individuals from diverse backgrounds to assist and strengthen the work of community based organizations that serve refugees and immigrants. Our diverse group represents 21 different countries and speaks 23 different languages. Members will assist refugee and immigrant communities in obtaining essential services and educational opportunities that enable them to improve their quality of life. NAIP members receive intensive training to teach English for Speakers of Other Languages, serve as medical interpreters, and assist eligible Legal Permanent Residents in their applications for citizenship.
The term of the service for this position continues from the start of service through August 31, 2012, with the possibility to reapply for a full-year position (Sep 2012-Aug 2013).  The member will be expected to complete at least 900 hours of service at their host site through the duration of their service.
Members interested in this service opportunity will receive:
  • A living allowance
  • Education Award upon successfully completing term of service
  • Childcare assistance
  • Health Coverage
Positions are available immediately.
If interested, please send email to NAIPCoordinator@MassMail.state.ma.us.

NAIP AmeriCorps Members at a training

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation / Barbara Lee Political Office is Hiring

Two open positions for a Communications Manager and an Administrative Assistant.
The Communications Manager works with the Principal and Executive Director to promote the work of the Foundation and Political Office. This position reports to the Executive Director.
The Administrative Assistant supports the Executive Director and other staff, as assigned. This position reports to the Executive Director. The Barbara Lee Family Foundation (BLFF) supports progressive initiatives in two primary program areas: women in politics and contemporary art. The Barbara Lee Political Office (BLPO) manages Barbara Lee’s political projects, fundraising, and contributions to organizations and candidates. The Lee Family Office (LFO) manages administrative functions for Barbara Lee.
Interested candidates should contact Moire Carmody at mcarmody@barbaralee.com to receive a full job description and application instructions.
In This Bulletin
Federal Updates
State Updates
MIRA Messages
Member to Member
Job Opportunities

Save the Date
FREE Citizenship Clinic
Saturday, March 3
Notre Dame
Education Center
200 Old Colony Ave •
South Boston, MA


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For more information contact us at  
P: 617-350-5480 F: 617-350-5499
MIRA Coalition, 105 Chauncy St, Suite 901, Boston, MA, 02111
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