Immigrant voices on immigration reform

Everyone has an opinion on the polarizing topic of immigration reform, but rarely do immigrants get to be in the presence of key decision makers who determine their fates. Student Estefany Pineda and community organizer Jose Palma got that opportunity recently, when Pineda attended the State of the Union as a guest of US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Palma testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Pineda is a recipient of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives legal status and work authorization to those brought into the country illegally by their parents as minors. Palma, who came to the US in 1999 after a natural disaster in El Salvador, has temporary protected status, which allows him to live and work legally here as well.

Pineda and Palma described the challenges faced by immigrants under President Trump’s administration on the Codcast. While they represent different groups of immigrants, Pineda and Palma say the best way forward for both of them is to find a pathway to citizenship through the recently proposed Dream and Promise Act. The new legislation, proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders, is the first to seek permanent legal residency for both groups of immigrants.

Under the legislation, immigrants who had their status established as of September 25, 2016, could seek permanent residency as long as they lived in the US for three consecutive years.

More than 12,000 people in Massachusetts have TPS, a designation established by Congress in 1990 that protects foreign nationals from being returned to their home country if there are concerns about armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions. More than 6,000 TPS holders in Massachusetts are from El Salvador and Haiti.

Pineda got DACA in 2016, and pays $500 every two years to re-apply for the status. She said she would like to graduate and live her life “without waiting for a certain date.” She’s concerned about deportation or not being able to legally work after graduation from UMass Boston.

Palma is also concerned. “We are all at risk of losing the immigration protection and potentially becoming undocumented,” he said. He renews his application every 18 months and pays $485 to remain in the US with his four children. TPS holders from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Sudan, Nepal, and Sudan had their status extended to January 2020 after the Department of Homeland Security decided to comply with a federal court order. Both immigration protections are mired in court battles.

TPS recipients and DACA holders are often pitted against each other in politics. “TPS and DACA are often being used as a bargaining chip; we are like the soccer ball being kicked around during electoral season,” said Palma.

Palma and Pineda believe the bill can pass the House, but are not sure about success in the Republican-controlled Senate. Palma had organized around DACA in 2010, and saw the Dream Act fail in a Democratic congress led by a Democratic president. “It’s a roller coaster trip, a nightmare for people like myself and for people who want to live here,” he said.

SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

State leaders are preparing for a new push on comprehensive health care reform, with the Baker administration signaling an interest in diving in deep on an issue the governor is well versed in. (Boston Globe)

The Eagle-Tribune editorializes in favor of raising the minimum age for marriage to 18 in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Amid all the talk about neighborhood stabilization and gentrification in Boston, Samarth Gupta points out that eviction rates are far higher in the state’s Gateway Cities. (CommonWealth)

It’s time for Boston to make better known its privately owned public spaces, writes Renée Loth. (Boston Globe)

Brookline plans to appeal a Civil Service Commission decision that the town’s fire department improperly fired an employee whose supervisor had yelled the n-word in traffic while leaving a voicemail. (WGBH)

Boston NAACP president Tanisha Sullivan says next year’s national convention of the organization in Boston presents challenges — and opportunities — for the city and state. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Frustration is growing over US Rep. Richard Neal’s go-slow approach to requesting copies of President Trump’s tax returns. (Huffington Post) CommonWealth recently profiled the Springfield pol — with a focus on the pressure he’s facing to get the president’s tax returns with his new power as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

ELECTIONS

Saying she does not want her victory to be “an anomaly,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley criticized a new policy of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to blacklist campaign workers who work against incumbent Democrats in primaries. (WBUR)

Former vice president Joe Biden’s penchant for touching women is coming under renewed scrutiny as he nears an announcement on whether he’ll run for president. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

MassMutual is eliminating traditional job titles at work. (MassLive)

First-generation homebuyers need support, say Tom Callahan and Symone Crawford. (CommonWealth)

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards calls for putting an end to wage theft at Logan International Airport. (CommonWealth)

EDUCATION

State officials are calling on Roxbury Preparatory Charter School to lower its suspension rate, which is the second highest of any school in the state. (Boston Globe)

The Massachusetts School Building Authority plans to vote April 10 on whether to approve assistance for the $343 million new Lowell high school, and the city council plans to vote later in the month on financing its portion of the project, which should trigger the resignation of Sen. Edward Kennedy from the council. (Lowell Sun)

The Boston city council will hold a hearing today on the call by advocates and parents to have every school in the city staffed full time by a nurse. (Boston Herald)

ARTS/CULTURE

The creative economy, particularly in the Berkshires but across the state, is losing some steam. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

Massport is taking on Uber and Lyft, but will some free service and perks be enough to pull passengers away? (CommonWealth)

The state has collected more than $3 million to aid the troubled taxi industry via a 5 cent surcharge on every Uber and Lyft ride. What has it done with the money? Not much, writes Scott Kirsner. (Boston Globe)

Plymouth & Brockton, the bus company that ferries commuters to Boston from southeastern Massachusetts is up for sale, and one of the three potential buyers is John Cogliano, the former secretary of transportation. (Cape Cod Times)

An Uber driver was charged with the rape of a female passenger early Saturday morning. (MassLive)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The 800 million gallons of sewage dumped into the Merrimack River last year was double the amount from 2017. About 600,000 people get drinking water from the river. (Eagle-Tribune)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

In the scramble for a piece of the state’s fledgling marijuana industry, the desire for social justice is being thwarted by the economic reality of starting a business. (CommonWealth) Meanwhile, a would-be pot shop in Jamaica Plain wants to include a “social justice museum” that spotlights the history of the impact of marijuana prohibition.

Starting Tuesday, the Gaming Commission will conduct three days of hearings to determine whether Wynn Resorts remains a suitable casino license-holder after 2018 revelations about sex crime allegations against the company’s founder and former CEO, Steve Wynn that some already knew about. (WGBH) A Globe editorial rips what it says has become a pattern of lack of transparency on the part of the commission, including its decision not to livestream this week’s hearings or post on its website the findings of its investigation of the company.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the case against Robert Kraft as well as potential holes in the prosecution that his lawyers could raise to try to beat the charges he faces of soliciting sex from prostitutes. (Boston Globe)

Securing houses of worship is a collective responsibility, says Jeremy Yamin. (CommonWealth)

The pain of loss isn’t the only burden families of murder victims bear, as during parole hearings and other proceedings they must often confront the humanity of the killer, writes Ilyse Levine-Kanji, whose grandfather was murdered in Chicago. (WBUR)

MEDIA

The Knight Foundation announces a $6 million investment in three organizations — the Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers, and the News Revenue Hub — seeking to bolster local news.