According to reporting from 7News Boston WHDH, two immigration-related bills are currently making significant progress in the Massachusetts legislature. Supporters are citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason why immediate action is critical. In this article, our immigration lawyers highlight the most important things you should know about the two proposals.
Immigration-Related Bills in Massachusetts Legislature
Immigrant communities in Massachusetts and throughout New England were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the light of the challenges, immigrant rights advocates are renewing their push behind two bills in the Massachusetts legislature that are designed to make communities safer and more equitable for immigrants. Here is an overview of the proposed legislation:
- A Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants: Denying immigrants the right to drive during the COVID-19 pandemic increases their need to use crowded public transportation. A bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a full, unrestricted Massachusetts driver’s license now has 101 co-sponsors—meaning more than half of all sitting members are actively supporting the reform. As noted by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 16 states already have a similar law in place, including Connecticut, Vermont, and New York. Researchers estimate that 200,000 immigrants in Massachusetts would become eligible for a driver’s license if this bill was passed into law.
- Limit Police Cooperation With Federal Immigration Enforcement: A second immigration-related bill is also working its way through the legislature. The Massachusetts Safe Communities Act (H 2418 / S 1579) would create a more comprehensive legal firewall between local and state law police officers and federal immigration enforcement agencies. Most notably, the Safe Communities Act would bar state and local police officers and state and local court officials from asking about a person’s immigration status, unless explicitly required to do so by law. Additionally, the bill would put major restrictions on the information that state and local police in Massachusetts can share with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bill has an impressive total of 93 co-sponsors at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. At the same time, it faced stiff opposition from some conservative lawmakers.
Whether or not either bill will become law still remains to be seen. One of the primary challenges is that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (Republican) has previously expressed opposition to both laws. However, he has not stated for certain whether he would go as far as vetoing one or both of the bills if they made it to his desk. Nonetheless, supporters of the reforms believe that two-thirds majority support is needed to get the bills to the finish line.
Call Our Immigration Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our immigration lawyer has a proven record of success across a wide range of immigration matters. If you have questions, we have answers. Call us now for a strictly confidential, no obligation review and evaluation of your case. With an office in Boston, we serve communities throughout the whole Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including in Cambridge, Brockton, Weymouth, Quincy, Waltham, Newton, and Lynn.