Archive for January, 2011

Register Today For Immigration Advocacy Day!

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Our elected officials hear all kinds of things about immigrants and refugees.  They hear from anti-immigrant lobbyists, they hear from talking heads on cable news, and they hear from politicians in states like Arizona.  Now, more than ever, your senators and representatives need to hear from YOU! Join us for Immigration Advocacy Day on February 23, and help us educate the General Assembly on the real issues surrounding the immigration debate.

Immigration Advocacy Day 2011

Wednesday, February 23rd

9am-3pm

Car pools will be coordinated from certain parts of the state.  Breakfast and Lunch will be provided.

Click here to register!

Missouri’s Legislators Compromise Public Safety to Attack Immigrants

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

With just three weeks of the legislative session under their belts, members of the General Assembly have wasted no time in offering up unnecessary and dangerous policy proposals aimed at undermining the basic civil rights of the immigrant and refugee community.   HB 167 and HB 168, both sponsored by Rep. Nolte of Gladstone, use driver’s licenses and state IDs to target legal, documented immigrants for discrimination.  Because undocumented immigrants are ineligible for these forms of identification, the legislation would only impact documented immigrants who are already in compliance with state and federal laws.

HB 167 would require driver’s exams to be conducted only in English.  Missouri has offered these exams in at least 12 languages for years because law enforcement understands that it is more important to assure a driver understands traffic laws than to conduct arbitrary language proficiency tests.  By eliminating non-English speakers’ ability to qualify for a Missouri license, the legislature would be removing thousands of people’s ability to get to work, take their children to school, or travel.  HB 167 would only serve to encourage people in desperate situations to drive without a license, creating a significant public safety concern.

Even more offensive is HB 168, which would require that state-issued ID carried by non-citizens have an emblem indicating their status as immigrants.  While forcing non-citizens to carry a proverbial “Scarlet Letter” would do nothing to promote public safety, it would increase incidents of profiling and discrimination against immigrants and refugees.  By being labeled as an “alien” every time one is forced to present an ID – to an officer, to a potential employer, at the grocery store – non-citizens would be subjected to even greater prejudice, discrimination, and profiling than they might otherwise face.

“This legislation is a blatant effort to discriminate against immigrants because of the language they speak, and then demoralize them by forcing them to identify themselves with what amounts to a scarlet letter,” said Vanessa Crawford, Executive Director of MIRA.  “When there is a climate in Jefferson City where a legislator can declare that he supports these proposals merely because he ‘hates Spanish,’ there is little doubt as to the motives behind this legislation.  Instead of attacking thousands of people in Missouri’s communities, the General Assembly should be looking for ways to make our laws reflect the diversity of our state.”

MIRA Announces New Director!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Citizenship DayMissouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates – a statewide coalition of more than 45 organizations across Missouri that advocates for the basic rights of immigrants and refugees – is proud to announce its new Executive Director, Vanessa Crawford.   Crawford begins her work this week, following the departure of long-time director, Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy.                    Read more about MIRA’s mission.

Crawford comes to MIRA by way of a notable career in the political and non-profit fields.   Beginning her career as an intern in the office of the legendary champion for the rights of immigrants, Sen. Ted Kennedy, she has worked her way through the progressive ranks for a number of issues, campaigns, and elected officials.  She has proudly served as legislative staff for the likes of State Senator Joan Bray and State Representative Rebecca McClanahan, and as organizer and political director for several environmental and social justice organizations.  Most recently, she served as Missouri State Director for Repower America, the local arm of a nation-wide campaign for clean energy.

“I am excited to get to work on this issue, which is so to dear to my heart,” said Crawford Tuesday.  “There is a lot of work to be done making Missouri a welcoming and equitable place for all people, regardless of where they come from.  Our families, neighborhoods and workplaces are made up of immigrants, and it is imperative that federal, state and local policies fairly reflect and value the diversity immigrants bring to our communities.”

MIRA expects to be busy in the coming months fighting for the rights of immigrants and refugees in Jefferson City, as well as conducting educational programs around the state.  To become a MIRA member and take part in this important work, click here.