Western Massachusetts has a tradition of opening its doors to people seeking freedom and refuge, and it’s time we honor the legacy of the Underground Railroad by advocating for the provisions of the Safe Communities Act, including:

  • Banning police from asking about people‚Äôs immigration status unless required by law
  • Ending 287(g) contracts that deputize state and local law enforcement as ICE agents
  • Requiring that immigrants be notified of their due-process rights
  • Ensuring that Massachusetts does not contribute to any registry based on religion, ethnicity, citizenship or other protected categories

According to The Partnership for a New American Economy, 16.5% of Massachusetts residents are born outside of the United States, and about half of our immigrants and refugees have arrived since 2000. The top countries of origin include China, India, Brazil, Portugal, Haiti, Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, El Salvador and Canada. They earn $42.9 billion a year and pay $8.4 billion in federal and $3.5 billion in local and state taxes, plus Social Security and Medicare. 68,700 immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs employ over 134,000 people in Massachusetts and generate $1.9 billion in business income. 58% of Massachusetts-based Fortune 500 businesses were founded by immigrants or their children. They’re also 59% of medical and life scientists, 49% of cooks, and 48% of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides.

Many of our towns in the First Franklin District are losing population, and desperately need new young families to fill our schools and revitalize our communities. We would benefit from a study that shows why we suffer from an acute lack of diversity, and what is systemically preventing Massachusetts’ immigrant families from moving into our communities. Clearly, opening our doors to newcomers is a vital step in fostering a strong local economy.