At a virtual summit, leaders sought to educate and engage on the need for change.
Senator Ed Markey, senator Angus King, congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow and others spoke to the importance of passing federal and state immigration reforms critical to the country’s economic recovery. The New England Business Immigration Summit was held on February 19 and was co-hosted by the Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) and other organizations.
“It’s just inspiring to see the New England business community come together to advocate for sensible and humane immigration reform,” said Markey. “We know that our immigrant community is the lifeblood of our economy. We are going to need to stand, all of us together, to fight for just immigration reform. …The benefits that immigrants provide to New England simply cannot be denied.” He added, “We have a moral obligation to pass bold and immediate immigration reform that recognizes the dignity of every person and sets new Americans on a pathway to citizenship.”
Markey said that he would be introducing a New Deal for New Americans Act next week. It will “promote immigrant and refugee inclusion by coordinating the efforts of federal, state, and local governments to support the social, the economic, and the civic integration of immigrants and refugees.” In addition, it will create a workforce development program to ensure immigrants and refugees have access to programs that help them develop occupation skills. Markey is also reintroducing the GRACE Act, which will ensure that no United States president ever sets the refugee admission level below 125,000 a year.
Pressley spoke to the importance of helping immigrants and marginalized people find justice in the face of xenophobia.
“The cruel irony and contradiction that there are people every day ensuring that our families can be fed, but they cannot feed their own, is why I have such righteous indignation and rage about the contradictions, injustices, inequities, and disparities that persist in our nation,” said Pressley. “We really must reject these false scarcity narratives. There is enough for everyone, and everyone is deserving.”
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.