On Thursday June 14th, 2012, The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) will support the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC) as it hosts its 2012 Day of Awareness and Action. For the day, community speakers, advocates, and elected officials will convene at the Massachusetts State House to discuss three key issues that impact communities of color and the LGBTQ community: immigration, the criminal justice system, and youth homelessness.
The day will provide an opportunity for community members to gather and take action on timely social issues that disproportionately impact our communities. The day will also shed light on current state legislation that could have dire consequences for those who identify as LGBTQ, a person of color, or both. After the event, participants are encouraged to visit their elected officials to continue the conversation.
The event will take place at the Massachusetts State House Grand Staircase on Thursday June 14th, 2012 from 12:00-3:00pm. Guest speakers include Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez. Rep. Carlos Henriquez, Rep. James J. O’day and Boston NAACP President Michael Curry. HBGC’s Day of Action and Awareness is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. For more information or to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overview of the day:
12:00 – 12:15: Welcome
12:15 – 1:00: Immigration & Our Community
With focus on recent S-Comm (Secure Communities) developments and anti-immigrant SB 2061 (“An act to enhance community safety”). Featuring Representative Jeffrey Sanchez (tentative) and special guests from the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) and the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition.
MTPC Opposes S-Comm (Secure Communities) and SB 2061
“Secure Communities” (S-Comm) is a program that was launched in 2008 by the Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE), which says its purpose, is to deport serious and violent criminals.[i] The federal “Secure Communities” or “S-Comm” program creates an automatic pipeline of information from every city and town in Massachusetts to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), feeding it tens of thousands of names and fingerprints annually. This information sharing is triggered when there is an arrest in any and all instances, including a misdemeanor such as operating a car without a license. Even in the case of wrongful arrest where the charge is thrown out, the fingerprints and information will still be sent to ICE.[ii] In Massachusetts, only Boston now participates in S-Comm. More than half of those deported under the Boston program had no criminal record.[iii]
This type of program negatively impacts transgender immigrants and in some cases, transgender people fleeing violence and discrimination from their home countries are being deported back to those countries and those in ICE detention centers are subjected to being inappropriately placement, in facilities that do not honor a person’s gender identity, harassment, and violence.
[i]ACLU Massachusetts. “What Is “Secure Communities”?” Aclum.org. ACLU Massachusetts. Web. 7 June 2012. <http://aclum.org/sites/all/files/education/s_comm/WhatIsSCommflyer.2.23.11.pdf>.
[ii] ACLU Massachusetts. “S-Comm.” ACLU of Massachusetts. Web. 07 June 2012. <http://aclum.org/s-comm>.
[iii]ACLU Massachusetts. “What Is “Secure Communities”?” Aclum.org. ACLU Massachusetts. Web. 7 June 2012. <http://aclum.org/sites/all/files/education/s_comm/WhatIsSCommflyer.2.23.11.pdf>.
SB 2061 is a Massachusetts bill that seeks to criminalize immigrant families in the Commonwealth and deny essential services to families. Under the guise of enhancing public safety the bill would facilitate the implementation of the controversial federal Secure Communities program in the state and enact additional measures designed to isolate immigrant families from housing, education and legal protections. While targeting undocumented immigrants the bill would also affect documented immigrants and citizens in its implementation against mixed status families.[i]
[i] “We Say NO to Anti-Immigrant SB 2061.” Massachusetts Jobs With Justice. 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 07 June 2012. <http://www.massjwj.net/news/we-say-no-anti-immigrant-sb-2061>
1:00 – 1:45: The Criminal Justice System & Our Community
With focus on Stand Your Ground and Three Strikes legislation. Featuring Representative Carlos Henriquez and special guests from Boston Branch NAACP, Black & Pink and the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition.
MTPC Opposes Current Versions of the “Three Strikes Legislation”
Three Strikes Laws are statutes created by state governments that require the state courts to impose a life sentence to individuals who have been convicted of three or more serious criminal offenses.
The current versions of this bill would apply to almost 60 different felonies, including some that don’t typically involve violence, such as drug offenses. In addition, in December of 2011, the state House and Senate approved different versions of a “three-strikes” law that would require those convicted of three violent crimes to serve their entire term – even if it is a life sentence. Massachusetts already has a habitual offender law that requires someone convicted multiple times to serve at least half of his or her sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The new law would create two classes of habitual offenders and both would serve longer sentences. A person convicted as a first class offender (someone with a total of three crimes under the House or Senate lists) would serve the maximum sentence for a crime, without parole eligibility. A second-class offender (someone convicted of a crime on the list without two prior convictions on the list) would serve at least two-thirds of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The House and Senate have not agreed on a list, but both bills list murder and manslaughter, illegal sale of firearms and distributing child pornography.
1:45 – 2:30: Homeless Youth & Our Community
With focus on HB 1861 (“An act providing housing and support services for unaccompanied homeless youth”) and updates around efforts at adopting similar language into this year’s state budget. Featuring Representative James J. O’Day and special guests from Brookview House, MassEquality, and Boston GLASS.
MTPC Supports HB 1861
HB 1861, An Act Providing Housing and Support for Unaccompanied youth (aka Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Act), is a Massachusetts bill sponsored by Rep James O’Day that seeks to reduce youth homelessness and its adverse effects by funding a continuum of housing and support services designed specifically for unaccompanied homeless youth. These efforts seek to improve housing and residential stability, reduce the risk of harm and improve educational, physical and mental health outcomes for this population. The bill establishes a state funded program for $5 million. It also establishes a new special commission focused on improving services for unaccompanied youth under 18. [i]
2:30 – 3:00: Closing & Review of Advocacy Action Items
3:00 – 5:00: Meeting With Legislators & Legislative Aides