NUBE Statement on State Budget Admendments

Contact:Gloribell Mota, Lead Organizer, 617-480-8410

Publication Date:May 31, 2010

Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE) is extremely disappointed with the passage of the Senate’s immigration and fraud safeguards amendment during the budgetary debate held on May 27th. This is a misguided public policy that does nothing to address the budgetary woes of this state. Instead,elected and public officials as well as residents across the Commonwealth should consider that

  • Immigrant workers pay taxes and, if they are undocumented, they don’t receive means-tested entitlements like food stamps or subsidized public housing.
  • Social Security, one of our country’s largest entitlement programs, couldn’t function without the taxes that undocumented immigrants put in but will never be able to claim in old age. The same goes for unemployment insurance.
  • Immigrants are in fact keeping the state’s economy afloat after settling into small and large towns that had been suffering from population decline for many years.
  • Our economic system is essentially unfair, given that it is dependent on low wage workers, mostly immigrant, who take on the jobs with the worst conditions and make it possible for others to earn more.

In fact, our state already has mechanisms and safeguards in place to prevent fraud. Even Senate President Therese Murray acknowledged publicly that this problem doesn’t exist because our state has a federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, or SAVE.1 What this budget amendment really intends to create is another layer of bureaucracy while spending state resources on political pandering to the rhetoric of fear and hate.

As East Boston residents, NUBE is particularly disturbed about the action taken on this vote by our district’s State Senator Anthony Petrucelli. Sandra Nijjar, a resident of East Boston and a NUBE member said: “It is shameful that Senator Petruccelli voted yes on this amendment. It is more disappointing because he had pledged his full support for the in-state tuition bill. As our representative I would expect more from him. He represents a community that has immigrants from all walks of life contributing civically, economically and socially. His “yes” vote was not a vote representing us.”

Beyond creating a budget that truly reduces the state’s fiscal troubles, we should be promoting public safety policies that allow our law enforcement officials to effectively perform their duties, rather than promote measures that alienate and target segments of our communities. Such policies just do more harm than good. The position upheld by Republican candidate for Governor Charles Baker and Independent candidate Timothy Cahill of having law enforcement officers question individuals about their immigration status, does nothing to promote effective public safety or enhance community-policing practices.

Police chiefs from across Massachusetts have reached a consensus and stated that they “do not want to be in the business of enforcing immigration law.” In fact, Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis stated that such policies “would have strained relations between officers and resident in immigrant neighborhoods.” 2

Having political candidates use bigotry and rhetoric to earn votes instead of promoting effective and sound policies that protect our communities is an injustice for everyone. We hope our community sends a strong message to candidates that want to further deteriorate community and police relations by using immigrants as bait that this will not be tolerated.

These misconceived policy proposals disguised as economic or public safety measures clearly demonstrate that the current political leadership cannot address the structural budget deficit our state faces or the challenges in our municipalities in a progressive, comprehensive and meaningful way, but instead choose to use scapegoat tactics for short-term political gains. Moreover, this represents yet another message to our federal elected officials that we need to pass a comprehensive and fair immigration reform or we will continue to see state and local officials promoting reckless and hateful public policies.

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