Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

This profile was last updated in 2017

History
MIRA was founded in 1987, in response to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which allowed 3–5 million undocumented immigrants to become permanent residents. The goal was to advocate for the rights and integration of those immigrants, but also to build a member-driven coalition to advance the interests of all foreign-born people. Since then, MIRA has been a trusted voice and leader in a wide range of policy debates in Massachusetts involving immigrants and refugees, from access to health care and education, to English-language instruction and job training, to civil rights. Through institutional organizing and major events such as the annual Immigrants’ Day at the State House, which in 2017 brought more than 1,500 people to Beacon Hill to advocate for immigrants’ rights, MIRA has helped to amplify and strengthen the voices of immigrants. MIRA was also instrumental in the establishment of the state’s New Americans Agenda in 2008, a comprehensive policy for immigrant integration that became a model for the nation. MIRA has also played an important role in national immigration advocacy, most recently through the National Partnership for New Americans, which is helping shape the national agenda on immigrant integration. Over time, MIRA’s work has expanded and adapted to changing political conditions and challenges, but its core mission remains the same.

Programs/Advocacy
MIRA serves immigrants across New England through policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, education and training, leadership development, and strategic communications. As a diverse and broad-based coalition, MIRA focuses much of its work on connecting, informing and empowering its member organizations and the communities they serve, uniting them behind common causes and helping them effect local change themselves. MIRA also advocates for state policies and programs that support the social, civic and economic integration of immigrants and refugees, and works to defeat anti-immigrant measures. MIRA is currently one of the leaders of the campaign to pass the Safe Communities Act, which would clearly separate state and local law enforcement from immigration matters. In addition, MIRA has helped thousands of green card holders to become U.S. citizens, registered thousands of new Americans to vote, and built capacity among our members to provide legal services to immigrants. Through its New American Integration Program, MIRA places more than 30 AmeriCorps members at agencies across Massachusetts to support programs that help newcomers to the U.S. learn English and adapt to life in the United States. MIRA also supports grassroots organizing and provides trainings and leadership development in partnership with organizations across the state, including through the annual Democracy School program.

Members
MIRA is powered by its 130+ members, including ethnic organizations, advocacy groups, social service agencies, schools, refugee resettlement agencies, health centers, faith institutions, unions and law firms. MIRA’s core staff is small – 11 as of August 2017 – but its impact is amplified by its AmeriCorps members, fellows and interns, and through its members across the state.