The legislation would help to advance immigrant rights
On April 5, mayors and municipal leaders from across Massachusetts gathered to encourage the passage of The Work and Family Mobility Act. The event was organized by the Driving Families Forward Coalition and Local 32bj SEIU. Speakers included Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Brockton Mayor Robert F. Sullivan, Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, and Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino. The bill that they addressed would allow all qualified state residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license regardless of their immigration status. It is currently awaiting action from the State Senate. At a previous briefing, Chelsea Police Chief and President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Brian Keyes called the bill “incredibly important, not only to allow immigrants to safely get to work, school, and the doctor, but also to strengthen “the trust component” that police depend on to effectively do their jobs.
Wu delivered the following remarks at the legislative briefing held on Tuesday:
“I am here in my official capacity, as mayor of Boston, to give voice to the many, many residents who need, urgently, to have the mechanisms for transportation, for safety, for economic mobility that this next step represents. I’m also here, wearing my own identity, coming from an immigrant family, where I know what it feels like to see the systems that are there, built with programming, with services and funding, feel so far away, because of the many barriers that stand in the way. We are, in Boston, a city of immigrants. 29% of our population, 29% of our residents, come from an immigrant background. Supporting our immigrant communities is supporting our city. And we know that the pandemic has deepened just about every need that our communities have been facing since long before COVID, but that the mechanism for connecting people to opportunities, all the work that we’re doing around housing affordability, around educational quality and access, around clean air and jobs, will only matter if people can actually get to all of the opportunities we’re setting up and working so hard to create. This legislation has truly come from community up. And I want to thank the many, many organizers who have been involved with this. … We are feeling it; we’re just ready for that next step, and I couldn’t be prouder to be here with you all, continuing to voice loud support, that each and every one of our community members matters in our society and is critical to building the recovery that is just, sustainable, equitable, and the one that we deserve, all across the Commonwealth.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.