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Good News From The States

July 11, 2008 - Posted by Mario Moreno

Two items from this week. First, the Boston Globe and other media (link, link) report that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed Executive Order 503: Integrating Immigrants and Refugees Into The Commonwealth. The order launches an intensive statewide project focused on how to better integrate Massachusetts immigrant and refugee populations into the civic and economic life of the state. Known as the New Americans Initiative, it is modeled after an Executive Order signed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2005.

“Massachusetts is and has always been a Commonwealth of immigrants,” Patrick said in a statement yesterday after he signed an executive order creating the initiative. He is expected to speak publicly on the issue today at a naturalization ceremony in Faneuil Hall. “Although immigration reform and enforcement is a federal issue, today’s reality is that states can and must find creative ways to better integrate immigrant and refugee populations through more coordinated services, including English language classes, job training, and citizenship assistance.”

This is accomplished by a public/private partnership that will include a series of public meetings and studies aimed at making recommendations to Gov. Patrick in July 2009.

Quite a different approach than that of neighboring Rhode Island, where Governor Donald Carcieri recently signed an executive order forcing state police to go after immigrants, which the state police were none to happy about. As in most states, the politics of immigrant bashing received a yawn from voters, according to a recent Providence Journal story.

Last night, Governor Carcieri was again on national television –– conservative Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s show –– to talk about his executive order cracking down on immigration.

While Carcieri, some legislators and the talk-radio hosts may think the issue is gaining traction locally, a recent public opinion survey by veteran pollster and political science Prof. Victor Profughi, of Rhode Island College, shows a substantial disconnect between average Rhode Islanders and political figures pushing illegal immigration as a top issue.

As noted above, Gov. Patrick followed up the executive order with by attending a naturalization ceremony in Faneuil Hall. Kudos to the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition in Boston (which was once run by Ali Noorani, the head of the National Immigration Forum.)

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