Open Borders coalition composed of more than 130 organizational members
Advocates for the expanded civil rights and liberties of illegal aliens
Founded in 1987, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) describes itself as a "multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition" that "succeeds in mobilizing community groups and immigrant leaders to speak out with one voice about issues that affect them." Composed of more than 130 organizational members, MIRA unequivocally supports expanded civil rights and liberties, and ultimately fully legalized status, for all illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. To make a case for this agenda, MIRA’s literature repeatedly uses the generic term "immigrants" to signify every foreign-born person residing in the U.S. -- regardless of their legality or lack thereof. On those rare occasions where MIRA makes explicit reference to illegal immigrants, it calls them "undocumented."
MIRA further laments that illegal aliens in America are commonly subjected to "worker exploitation" and, because they must live in the proverbial shadows, lack the freedom "to organize for better working conditions." Such a state of affairs, says MIRA, "fosters discrimination … undermines civil rights … [and] criminalizes hard work."
MIRA detects not only racism and jingoism in current immigration laws, but also sexism: "Laws that make it a crime to work without papers give employers a weapon against women seeking protection from unwanted sexual advancements or discriminatory treatment on the job.”
Denying that illegal immigration poses any substantial security threat, MIRA opposes the Patriot Act anti-terrorism legislation, characterizing it as a "very troubling" assault on civil liberties.
In June 2002, MIRA instructed its members, “Please do NOT aid people in applying with INS unless you are familiar with their immigration history and are certain they would not be at risk of deportation by doing so.” (Emphasis MIRA's.) Immediately after 9/11 a MIRA press release asked people to “Refer local Arab, Muslim, and affected groups to MIRA.” The organization also advocates for illegals to receive in-state college tuition rates.
Ali Noorani has been MIRA's Executive Director since November 2003. Formerly the Director of Public Health at the Health Services Partnership of Dorchester, Noorani's views on immigration set the tone for the entire MIRA organization. Blending legal and illegal immigrants into a single category, Noorani states, "We must remember our personal histories as immigrants and reach out to the newer members of our communities from around the world so they too can achieve the American dream."
In an April 2005 article, Noorani characterized conservatives and proponents of immigration law-enforcement as "individuals willing to close America to the world," and accused them of having "hijacked the immigration reform debate." He denounced the Minuteman Project as a coalition of “vigilante groups … emboldened by political demagogues who … have no interest in our national security and are willing to dismiss America's values and history for the sake of political gain.”
MIRA has strongly supported an In-State Tuition for Immigrant Students in Massachusetts bill that would allow high-school graduates who are illegal aliens residing in Massachusetts to attend public state colleges for the same reduced tuition rates that other Massachusetts residents pay.
MIRA's other "Current Legislative Priority" is the Student Adjustment/DREAM Act, a bill whose objective is to grant full legal status to illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as minors and have since graduated from high school.
MIRA has also taken a stand against proposed legislation that would deny drivers' licenses to illegal aliens.
In 2006, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney aroused MIRA's wrath by asking, “How many individuals are coming to our state and going to those institutions who have come from terrorist-sponsored states? Do we know where they are? Are we tracking them? How about people who are in settings -- mosques, for instance -- that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror. Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping?” Ali Noorani responded: "There's a need for the U.S. government and the intelligence system to better understand the Muslim community. The way not to do it is to wiretap and surreptitiously surveil an entire community."