Press Release: Monday, October 15, 2018

Mayor Walsh and community advocates lead rally in support of working immigrant families

Mayor Walsh and community advocates lead rally in support of working immigrant families

WHO: Mayor Martin J. Walsh with representatives of MIRA, Health Care For All (HCFA), Health Law Associates (HLA) and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), as well as other elected officials, community members and advocates

WHEN: TODAY, Monday, October 15, 12:00 pm

WHAT: Rally to condemn the proposed “public charge” rule and stand up for working immigrant families

WHERE: Samuel Adams Park (outside Faneuil Hall), Boston

BOSTON – Mayor Martin J. Walsh will co-host a press conference and rally today with advocates, community members, partner organizations and elected officials to condemn and vow to fight against a federal proposal to make it more difficult for working-class immigrants to obtain green cards or visas.

The proposal would vastly expand the definition of “public charge” – someone who depends on the government, and is thus ineligible for admission – to cover immigrants who earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level ($62,750 for a family of 4) and use any of several health care, nutrition or housing programs for working families, or are seen as likely to use them in the future. Immigrants who earn less than 125% of FPL would effectively be shut out. Almost half the non-citizen population of Massachusetts falls below the 250% FPL threshold.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register last Wednesday, Oct. 10, kicking off a 60-day comment period during which opponents of the change can voice their objections. As part of the nationwide Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, MIRA, HCFA, HLA and MLRI are working to gather at least 1,500 comments from Massachusetts – from public officials, advocates, experts, affected community members, and concerned citizens. Their comment portal opened last week at (also see this joint statement issued Sept. 23).

Advocates are deeply concerned about the chilling effect of the proposed rule, not only among those who may be directly affected, but among thousands of others who might disenroll from programs due to fear and misinformation, as has already begun to happen. Along with the comment campaign, the partners are actively reaching out to immigrant communities and service providers to ensure that families act on the best available information and do not give up benefits needlessly or prematurely.

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition is the largest coalition working to advance the rights and integration of our Commonwealth’s 1.1 million foreign-born residents. Its more than 130 organizational members include grassroots community organizations, refugee resettlement agencies, service providers, faith-based organizations and civil and human rights advocates.

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a nonprofit poverty law and policy center. It provides statewide advocacy and leadership in advancing laws, policies, and practices that secure economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities. MLRI advances its mission through legal initiatives and policy reforms that address the root causes of poverty, remove barriers to opportunity, and create a path to economic stability for low-income individuals, families, and communities.

Health Care For All is a non-profit advocacy group that envisions a Massachusetts in which everyone has the equitable, affordable, and comprehensive care they need to be healthy. Health Care For All promotes health justice in Massachusetts by working to reduce disparities and ensure coverage and access for all.

Health Law Advocates is a nonprofit public interest law firm that provides pro bono legal representation to low-income residents experiencing difficulty accessing or paying for needed medical services. HLA is committed to ensuring universal access to quality health care in Massachusetts, particularly for those who are most at risk due to such factors as race, gender, disability, age, or geographic location.