Last week, Governer Deval Patrick announced a new Massachusetts initiative to integrate immigrants “as quickly as possible” in the state.
Called “The New Americans Initiative”, the measure was modeled on a similar intiative in Illinois in 2005, which resulted in expanded services for immigrants – including english classes and citizenship assistance.
The Massachuesetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) was one of the organizations that helped to push the Governor to endorse the initiative. Marcony Almeida, Organizing Director for MIRA, has said that:
“The New Americans Initiative is a huge step from Governor Patrick proving that Massachusetts is a state founded, built and dependent of the immigrant community. The roles played by the Commonwealth’s current immigrants, who comprise, over 14 percent of the population and 17 percent of the workforce are important to show the importance of this executive order. We applaud the governor and affirm that we will continue to advocate for the rights and opportunities of all immigrants in Massachusetts.”
At a time when many states are pursuing anti-immigrant measures, following in the path of the federal government’s “enforcement only” policy, initiatives like this one in Massachusetts are a breath of fresh air in immigration policy.
Says Governor Patrick:
“Massachusetts is and has always been a Commonwealth of immigrants. Although immigration reform and enforcement is a federal issue, today’s reality is that states can and must find creative ways to better integrate immigrant and refugee populations through more coordinated services, including English language classes, job training, and citizenship assistance.”