Advocacy

The Rian Immigrant Center works to ensure that the United States and Massachusetts are welcoming to newcomers from around the world, because all residents deserve justice, equality, and dignity.

We work in partnership with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) and many other community based organizations to promote Comprehensive Immigration Reform and advocate for the rights and opportunities of all immigrants and refugees.

Current Priorities

In the current political environment, new anti-immigrant policies are being introduced regularly. To follow our views on critical policies, click here.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
ICE Detentions
Travel Bans
Safe Communities Act & Driver’s License Bill (An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility)
Public Charge
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ)
Minimum Wage and Family Medical Leave


How you can help

Small actions make a big difference. Show your support for positive immigration reform. Become educated about the issues, attend rallies, sign petitions, and spread awareness. Contact your state representative to communicate your support for critical legislation.

Most importantly, vote for officials who have pledged to support positive immigration reform. Your vote counts. To learn more about becoming a US citizen – and a registered voter – please attend one of our free clinics. Learn more here.

To learn more, email us at advocacy@riancenter.org; or follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter.


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

In September of 2017, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Several cases from the district courts of California, New York, Maryland, and D.C. have challenged the decision, and for now DACA recipients are allowed continued confidentiality from law enforcement, as well as the ability to renew their status. However, the program is no longer accepting new applications. In addition, while lawmakers in Congress continue to work on a compromise immigration bill, the government still has the opportunity to defend its decision to a court of appeals, and these new pro-DACA rulings were challenged by a lawsuit from the state of Texas which claims the very creation of DACA was unlawful. Now, in the coming months, the Supreme Court will rule on whether the termination of DACA is lawful. As such, the future of the program remains uncertain. The Rian Immigrant Center supports DACA as a path toward permanent status and citizenship.


Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The United States has a history of granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to individuals from countries that have suffered from natural disaster or an ongoing conflict. Recently, the presidential administration has terminated TPS for the majority of its recipients – refugees and immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti (these three make up the vast majority), Nicaragua, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. As the program phases out, the US government is arguing that the effects of disasters in these countries are no longer significant, rendering TPS no longer necessary. However, general unrest still plagues these countries, and their weakened economies will likely be unable to handle the influx of thousands of deportees. Furthermore, many TPS holders have established lives and begun to raise families in the United States. Immigration advocates recognize that TPS recipients need a path to citizenship. The Rian Immigrant Center joins these voices in their calls for continued renewal and reform of the program in order to create a path to legal permanent residency and citizenship.


ICE Detentions

Since January of 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased detentions of immigrants by as much as 30% since the same time the previous year, and the number of arrests of people without a criminal record has more than doubled. The increase in arrests coupled with the elimination of immigration priorities has sparked anxiety and fear in the immigrant community in Massachusetts. Our Center and others have experienced a notable increase in citizenship applications, as well as, a decrease in the number of people who, out of fear, are willing to report domestic violence, testify in court, and show up to medical appointments. Please encourage your representatives in congress to speak out against these changes, and volunteer with visitation programs which combat the isolating effects of immigrant detention.


Travel Bans

On June 24, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the president’s right to ban travelers from certain countries if he feels the measure is necessary to protect the U.S., despite prior opposition from the lower courts. The initial ban restricts migrants from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela. A second expanded travel ban now includes migrants from Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Kyrgyzstan.

Immigrants from those countries who have already been issued visas will not have them revoked, and those with immediate relatives in the US may still have the ability to immigrate. Legislation that would overturn the Supreme Court decision has not been introduced.  Those who want to take action can call their representatives and ask them to support the NO BAN ACT.


Safe Communities Act and Driver’s License Bill (An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility)

During the early 2020 legislative cycle, the Rian Immigrant Center, as a member of the Safe Communities Coalition, advocated for the passage of the Safe Communities Act (SCA) which would protect the civil rights, safety and well-being of all residents by drawing a clear line between immigration enforcement and public safety. The Massachusetts Senate has officially extended the Safe Communities Act bill to May 1st.

The Safe Communities Coalition now has time to work with the Public Safety Committee and all stakeholders to ensure we get the support we need to get this bill passed. Please follow the Massachusetts Safe Communities Coalition to learn about how to get involved.


Public Charge

The Supreme Court recently allowed the expansion of the public charge wealth test to proceed on Feb 24th which will limit access to green cards and visas for immigrants who need Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance, cash assistance and for many on Medicaid (learn more about who is impacted here). According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a public charge is someone who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence”. The proposed policy aims to broaden income level that can be used in public charge determinations as well as the range of public benefits that may be considered. If it becomes law as proposed, it will greatly impact working-class immigrants. As written in its proposed form, it states that anyone earning less than 250% of the federal poverty level ($62,750 for a family of 4) could be found to be a public charge and that individuals who use certain health care, nutrition or housing programs could be deemed public charges, as well. Individuals who are determined to be a public charge or who are deemed likely to become one under the new policy can be denied lawful permanent residence or entry into the U.S., and, in very limited cases, deported.

In response to the public charge wealth test expansion, the Rian Immigrant Center will do everything we can to support the immigrant families we work with who might be impacted. It is important that immigrants who have any questions or who are seeking to adjust their status consult with an immigration attorney. We offer consultations at our free weekly clinics. 

Along with our partners at MIRA and the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) campaign, the Rian Immigrant Center opposes this policy change. The effect on participation in safety-net benefits programs could decrease dramatically, negatively impacting the health and financial stability of immigrant families. Please contact the Rian Immigrant Center at advocacy@riancenter.org to find out more.


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ)

Following the passage of the Massachusetts Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the Rian Immigrant Center was thrilled that the provision concerning Special Immigrant Juveniles has passed. This provision aims to reconcile differences between federal and state law concerning immigrant children that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Under the provision, all immigrants under the age of 21 in Massachusetts who are seeking Special Juvenile status will now have the opportunity to obtain their green card. This is great news for many of the Rian Immigrant Center’s clients, and a small victory for compassion in immigration policies.


Minimum Wage and Family Medical Leave

As a member of the Raise Up Massachusetts Coalition, the Rian Immigrant Center gathered support for paid family and medical leave, and the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15. We are pleased that in June 2018 the state Legislature passed a bill that includes incrementally raising the hourly minimum wage from the current rate of $11 to $15 by 2023; and creates a paid family and medical leave program that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of medical leave beginning in 2021.­