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The #SafeCommunitiesAct hearing on January 24th was long, emotional and a critical piece of our advocacy for immigrants’ rights. JDI’s Executive Director Debra J. Robbin shared remarks on behalf of the coalition flanked by survivors, advocates and JDI member programs Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, The Network/La Red, Independence House, Voices Against Violence,  Center for Hope and Healing, Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s DV/SA Program, Journey to Safety from JF&CS, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Transition House, and HAWC.

Debra described how immigrants enduring domestic and sexual abuse are forgoing help out of fear, “No one should fear to report violence.”

She acknowledged the courage of survivors who were in the room to bear witness and to speak their truths: “Their lived experiences were woven into every panel speaking at the hearing because sexual and domestic violence are that pervasive.” She also highlighted the fears of immigrant survivors to seek help, to get medical care and their increased fear of deportation, retaliation from abusers and separation from their children. She implored the committee members to consider: “How can we, as a state with a strong moral compass, allow this to happen?”

You can read Debra’s full testimony on behalf of the Coalition here.

JDI was joined by brave survivors, member organizations, teachers, union leaders, health providers, law enforcement, moms, youth, children, immigrants, mayors and city officials, state legislators, and faith leaders. Our unified message reflected our shared hopes and fears for the public health and safety of our communities.

Lead sponsor Representative Liz Miranda called us to action: “As one of the three black women in the legislature and Representative of a district 50% foreign born, the Commonwealth can choose to lead instead of tearing families apart. Massachusetts is technically already a sanctuary state because the Wampanoag, Mohegan, Mahican native tribes did not deport us 500 years ago. We must do right by our people.”

Dulce Almeida from MAPS shared why the #SafeCommunitiesAct is very important to ensure the safety of all and that MAPS proudly supports the Safe Communities Act. You can read Dulces testimony here.

Powerful testimony and words by Hema Sarang-Sieminski, JDI’s Policy Director, and Gabriela Núñez Santiago, Support Group Coordinator at The Network/La Red and Bilingual/Bicultural Consultant for the DV/SA Services at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, who shared about immigrant survivors who live in isolation, hopelessness, and face multiple barriers that compound their problems. Read Hema’s testimony here.

What’s next for the Safe Communities Act

We are grateful to all of the Committee members who stayed throughout the entirety of the hearing, now we need to see this bill moved out of Committee favorably. We urge you to contact your Representative and Senator to express your support for the Safe Communities Act. Call, email, send a letter, meet in person—they’re all impactful! Legislators who support this bill are being attacked by the opposition so we need to remind our legislators why this is such a critical piece of legislation. You can find your legislator here along with their contact information.

If you have questions or would like more information please contact policy@janedoe.org.