Newton Congressman Joe Kennedy III addressed Massachusetts business leaders at an event hosted by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, which was held at the Needham TripAdvisor headquarters this past Tuesday.
In the Congressman’s remarks at the convention, he reaffirmed his commitment to a state-wide and national support of immigrants in the workforce. He currently represents Massachusetts’ fourth district, which includes the neighboring communities of Newton and Brookline.
Kennedy is no stranger to issues concerning immigration and foreign affairs. As a strong proponent of pro-immigrant legislation and a former member of the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs, Kennedy has used his political position to push back against anti-immigration legislation that is moving forward at the behest of the current administration and much of the Republican party.
Kennedy began his remarks on Tuesday morning by proclaiming that the immigration debate stems from a political issue. He asserted that the Republican Party is using misinformation to drive the conservative discourse regarding immigration reform.
“If facts were driving this conversation, there would be no conversation,” he said.
The congressman has served as a spokesperson for the decriminalization of migration, a proponent for a comprehensive pathway to citizenship for asylum seekers and refugees, and a fervent advocate for humane methods of border security. In his speech, Kennedy endorsed two bills that were designed to protect the civil rights of immigrants who are Massachusetts residents: the Safe Communities Act, which is already in effect, and the Work and Family Mobility Act, which is still pending in the legislature.
The Congressman expressed his support for the Safe Communities Act, which was devised by the Massachusetts Safe Communities Coalition two years ago as a means of restoring the community’s trust in the local police force.
The act limits the unwarranted involvement of law enforcement in immigration matters when 911 calls are placed. The goal of the Safe Communities Act is to protect all Massachusetts residents by decreasing the potential fear of reporting criminal activity by removing questions about immigration status from the equation. The act also requires increased law enforcement training, in order to ensure that police personnel protect due process for all Massachusetts residents—regardless of their citizenship status.
Kennedy promoted the Work and Family Mobility Act, which would permit all Massachusetts residents to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. This piece of legislation would allow for immigrant families to drive without worrying about the potential risk of being deported as a result of a routine traffic stop.
He went on to share his personal observations of the crisis at the southern border. Kennedy described a scene in El Paso, Texas, where he met asylum-seekers who were detained upon entry to the country. The detainment was not the result of broken laws, but the result of a broken political agenda, he said. Kennedy characterized this border crisis as a “question of political will.”
In his final statement to the audience, Kennedy encouraged the business representatives to “raise their voices” and fight back against the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.
Kennedy spoke proudly of his family’s own roots as immigrants, having fled to America during the Potato Famine in Ireland. It is common knowledge that his lineage includes generations of American leaders and philanthropists. With Joe Kennedy III, this legacy continues.
The MIRA Coalition is dedicated to both informing the public about immigrants’ influence on the Massachusetts’ economy and appreciating the roles that immigrants play within individual businesses and industries.
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