Student Vigil Forces Retraction of Anti-Immigrant Provisions

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MA State House Steps, photo by Pam Chu

A two week long 24-hour immigrant student vigil led Massachusetts state legislative bodies to moderate anti-immigrant amendments attached to a State budget draft. The legislature's conference committee removed measures to create a hotline reporting on undocumented immigrants and the denial of in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities to undocumented sutdents. The state Senate had attached the measures. On the other hand, along with other budget cutting decisions, funding for 30,000 immigrants' health care was eliminated, and language codified prohibitions on state services and benefits for the undocumented.

A score of different groups have come out in support of the vigil, termed MASS HOPE 2010, organized by Student Immigrant Movement (SIM). The groups have included a number of Asian American groups such as the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), Asian American Resource Workshop, Deported Disaspora, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center and API Movement. Representatives of SIM said that regardless of the decisions on the amendments, that the vigil has had a great effect on seeing movement building, bringing together different communities. They are pursuing discussions with this expanded movement about building longer-term activities. 

After the conference committee decision, CPA issued a statement, saying "We also must be concerned about a political atmosphere in which elected officials feel compelled to take action against the undocumented rather than focus on the real cause of our social and economic problems. The use of hate politics and of immigration as a wedge issue is not over, and our struggle is not over."

SIM and its allies are awaiting the Governor's signature, confirming the deletion of anti-immigrant measures. To date, he has been sympathetic to their issues and is expected to sign the budget bill.