The Growing Wave of Federal Immigration Restrictions: What's at Stake for Massachusetts?

Trevor Mattos, André Lima & Peter Ciurczak
Date of Publication: 
June, 2019
Source Organization: 

The current immigration debate has largely focused on the Trump administration’s stated fears about illegal immigration to the United States. The most consequential changes over the past couple of years, however, have come in the form of restrictions to longstanding legal channels of immigration. This systematic federal effort to limit immigration has had substantial impact on families, communities and the legal system in Massachusetts.This report by Boston Indicators provides a useful new resource for understanding these fast-moving changes. Specifically, the report:

  1. Describes in simple terms how the Trump administration has sought to limit legal immigration to the United States—attempting to end temporary programs/designations like DACA and TPS, dramatically restricting our refugee and asylum programs, and implementing countless other rule and procedure changes that serve to slow other legal channels (e.g., worker visas).
  2. Quantifies the impact of these restrictions nationwide and in Massachusetts.
  3. Provides a range of options for local response. While immigration is mostly a federal policy issue, there are many things that can be done locally to better support the immigrants who currently live here as family members, friends and co-workers.

Among these potential local action areas are providing better legal defense for people in immigration court proceedings. People facing deportation hearings have no legal right to public counsel, so private support for legal defense is critical; those with legal counsel are six times more likely to win deportation cases when represented by an attorney.

Additionally, the state could also ease the financial burdens on undocumented students by following 20 other states that allow all students who attended local high schools, regardless of immigration status, to pay in-state tuition at public colleges; by providing full MassHealth coverage to all children regardless of immigration status; and creating easier paths to obtaining local IDs and driver’s licenses.

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Mattos, T., Lima, A., & Ciurczak, P. (2019). The Growing Wave of Federal Immigration Restrictions: What's at Stake for Massachusetts? Boston, MA: Boston Indicators and the Boston Foundation, in partnership with the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund. Retrieved from