Senate Bill 2061 would substantially increase fines and add possible jail sentences for driving without a license, deny in-state tuition and vehicle registrations to anyone who cannot prove legal residence, and require companies with public contracts to check workers’ immigration status. It would expand the use of the federal Secure Communities program in Massachusetts, under which immigration police check the fingerprints of anyone arrested by local cops.
The bill, entitled “An Act to Enhance Community Safety,” was initiated by legislators from the Milford area under the pretext of responding to the death of a motorcyclist who was fatally struck by an allegedly drunk driver who was undocumented.
“It is wrong to use these tragic incidents to scapegoat all of us, as if we are criminals who do not belong here,” Natalicia Tracy, executive director of the Brazilian Immigrant Center, told demonstrators. “We belong here as much as anyone else who has family here, who has friends, who pays taxes, who works.”
Daniela Bravo, 24, an activist in the Student Immigration Movement, also addressed the rally. “I want to go to college,” said Bravo, who was born in Chile but grew up in the U.S. “This is where I belong and I want to fight against these laws.”
Following the rally most of the participants went to a Judiciary Committee hearing in the Statehouse that heard public comment on this bill and other pending legislation. Many could not get into the packed meeting room.
Most of those recognized to speak supported the anti-immigrant legislation, including relatives of two individuals who died in traffic accidents with alleged undocumented drivers, as well as the Milford police chief.
Several opponents of the bill also spoke. Most said the proposed law will lead police to increase racial profiling and will discourage immigrants from reporting crimes.
“All working people should oppose this bill,” William Leonard from the Socialist Workers Party said at the hearing. “In today’s world we face high unemployment, foreclosures, and speedup and worsening safety conditions on the job. In the face of these attacks we need solidarity and unity in struggle. This bill offers scapegoating that benefits the capitalist class. Our problem is not fellow workers—we need them to fight together. Our problem is the bosses and the capitalist system.”
Panel connects fight for safety, union, immigrants
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