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Milford Residents, Officials Testify on Immigration Bill

Several town officials and representatives of the Maloney and Grossi families testified Tuesday in support of a bill targeting impacts of illegal immigration. Opposition came from several groups and individuals.

BOSTON — Joined by several Milford officials, the families of and testified Tuesday in support of legislation that would target some of the impacts of illegal immigration on communities.

Introduced by state Rep. John Fernandes (D-Milford) and state Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge), along with two Republican representatives, the bill targets numerous issues in the areas of public contracts, public housing, public safety and motor vehicle registrations. [Editor's note: see attached PDF for filed bill.]

Fernandes, speaking about the bill, said it is not attempting to address illegal immigration, but its impacts on local communities by targeting employers and landlords, among others, "who are exploiting immigrants."

Among its provisions:

It would , from $100 to $1,000, under a progressive scale that ticks up for each subsequent offense.

It would require companies seeking public contracts to certify that their employees are authorized to work in the U.S.

It would require that state resources and benefits — including in-state tuition — be reserved for U.S. residents.

The bill also would require people who obtain motor vehicle registrations to provide a Social Security number, a federal tax ID number, or proof of legal residence.

The hearing before the joint Judiciary Committee drew a large crowd. The hearing room overflowed its capacity, although many in the audience attended for other bills. The crowd, however, was peppered with people opposing the bill, who shook their hands silently, to support speakers who opposed the bill.

Maureen Maloney, whose son, Matthew Denice, was killed last August after he was struck while riding a motorcycle in Milford, spoke first. She described his personality and reputation before explaining to the committee members how he died.

"Ten minutes after he left his friend's house, he was killed by an unlicensed, illegal immigrant who was drunk."

The legislation, she said, addresses some of the reasons why illegal immigrants come to Massachusetts. "Why would illegal immigrants not come to Massachusetts, when we are so willing to provide them with jobs and opportunities that they cannot find in their own countries?"

Maureen Grossi Laquerre, whose brother died following a collision with a Portuguese woman who was living in the U.S. illegally, and driving without a license, told committee members: "I've waited two and a half years for these three minutes," a reference to the time limit for public speakers.

The woman arrested and later charged in her brother's death was deported to Portugal before she faced trial on the charges, according to court records.

"Do you call that justice?" Laquerre said.

Testifying against the proposal were representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Chelsea Collaborative, and Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

Opponents said the measure will increase the likelihood of racial profiling by police, will discourage immigrants — legal or otherwise — from reporting crime, and will damage people's livelihoods.

Shannon Erwin, state policy director of MIRA, expressed sympathy for the Denice family, but responded: "Alcoholism and the problem of driving while intoxicated do not discriminate in their victims."

The bill will not make communities safer, she said, instead, it will make them less safe because it will discourage crime reporting in immigrant communities. And despite the focus on illegal immigrants, she said: "Immigrants are less likely to commit crime than the native born. Yet this bill targets immigrants."

Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, said the bill needlessly targets immigrants for criminal behavior. "This brings up profiling," she said. "This brings up a community who is not secure enough to call the police department because they think ICE will come with the police department. Let's make policies and rules that protect people, regardless of where they come from."

Testifying in support of the bill, in addition to the Maloney and Grossi families, were several town officials. each spoke to the committee.

O'Loughlin explained that the existing fine structure for the offense of driving without a license is not a deterrant, that the court system has become a "revolving door" of violators paying the $100 to $250 fine, and then returning to driving again.

One of the committee members, state Rep. Carlos Henriquez (D-Boston) questioned why the bill ties immigrants to unlicensed driving, instead of seeking to "increase penalties for unlicensed drivers, regardless of whether they are immigrants. I would love to see that."

The committee, led by Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) will be taking testimony in writing from people who could not attend the meeting.

The address: Judiciary Committee, State House, Boston, MA 02133, reference bills H3913 and S2061. Writers can also direct their letters to either Sen. Moore or Rep. Fernandes at the same address.

Jim Rizoli February 29, 2012 at 04:25 PM
David....I would think those with a vested interest in the home, live in landlords, are better at keeping up their houses. I know I would never let my property look like crap, because I take pride in my property. Sure there are some that don't care (slumlords) but those are the people that have to be weeded out and dealt with. I find those landlords that "defy" the rules are fly by night landlords who came and collected the rents and then abruptly left leaving the house in foreclosure and a host of other bills with them. It would be interesting to see the correlation between foreclosure and the slum houses, and who owned them before the house was abandoned. I have my suspicions. Jim@ccfiile.com
Maureen Maloney February 29, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Maurice, What are you talking about? You make no sense. Where did you get "at his friends house for 4:35 min" ? What does that mean 4 hrs 35 min, 4 min 35 secs? He had been over his friends house for a short time helping him fix the friends mothers car. The mother was there and outside talking to Matt. If you are insinuating something else be specific. We already know Matthew had no alcohol or drugs in his system. Matthews friends have told us that Matthew never drank ANY ALCOHOL until he was 21 years old. A few of them had a "pact" to not drink until 21. Matt was often the SOBER DRIVER for his friends to keep them safe. And his friends said HE NEVER USED DRUGS!!!!!! So say what you really mean Maurice. I will not let you disrespect Matthew or his memory.
Maureen Maloney February 29, 2012 at 05:06 PM
You are questioning the victim, my son, who did nothing wrong!!!!! Yes alcohol was a major factor in this BUT Nicolas Guaman was in the country illegally and driving without a license. The fateful day he killed Matthew he happened to be drunk. He may have hit Matthew because he was drunk, (or because he never took and passed the required written and driving test), but I agree with Ralph he fled because he was here illegally. Had he stopped Matthew would likely be alive today.
fed up February 29, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Thank you to all who took the time to go to the hearing and express their opinions and facts regarding these issues. Regarding unlicensed drivers, the bill addresses the strengthening of penalties for ANYONE found to be driving without a license. We appreciate your efforts all!
fed up February 29, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Thank you Jim!
Laurie Ainsworth Warich February 29, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Maurice, Really? Go lay down.
Jim Rizoli February 29, 2012 at 05:44 PM
@southpaw "I can't imagine how supporting anyone or anything that is ILLEGAL can be justified." It happens all the time.....When you look at the turnout there were at least 150 people in the room, (more were outside that didn't come in), there that were against the two bills. The sad part is.... American Citizens don't usually don't show up to these events. I don't blame them there is a cost factor and time from work etc..... You figure between parking and traveling expenses it cost us $ 50.00 Not including taking time off from work...(not an issue with me) but for someone else it would be. Don't the illegals work? Hard to believe they all can take the time off....but then on the other hand maybe they rely on public assistance to get by so it's not an issue to them. That's probably why they are so against the two bills. Whatever the case is, they are there in big numbers to protest against all bills that come up that would make America a stronger and safer country. The apathy of the American Citizens is what's going to destroy this country. We are right now on the tipping side and I'm afraid to say it's starting to go over the wrong way for us. Lets see if we can stop it. Jim@ccfiile.com
UglyHat February 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM
It is sad that a vocal minority can be heard because they show up while the majorities are working, caring for family, etc. Similar to the minorities represented by lobbyists – if you can afford to be heard you will be represented if not, too bad. You would think with all the advances in technology someone would have come up with a way to understand the needs and desires of the citizens, collect that information securely and provide it to our representatives so that the working majority could have their voices heard. Maybe I’ll work on that. I agree with many others here – for all my remarks and dismissive attitude toward you Jim, I do appreciate you showing up when the time came. I hope these bills pass and I hope they help.
Kim Poness February 29, 2012 at 06:12 PM
@UglyHat - I hear you. It's very difficult for me, my husband, or my children to take time off from work. Write to your representatives, and try to get your family, friends, and neighbors to write. Just because we can't be there in person doesn't mean we have no voice. Write every day if you have to - they will listen.
David Nolta February 29, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Sandra, are we so steeped in the stereotyping that characterizes so many of the posts here, that we don't recognize when someone ISN'T doing it? I was not criticizing landlords in general, not all landlords, not most landlords, not YOU. I was (and I think it's pretty clear from my post) pointing out that there are indeed landlords (not all, not most, not you) who, when violations are brought to their attention, are defiant. I learned this fact from Mary's investigative work on The Patch (see especially the articles and posts around the Selectman's Neighborhood Sweep events, a few months ago) I'm sorry if my post confused you. I have nothing at all against landlords who comply with regulations and don't bring their bad attitudes to the local government.
Thomas OLoughlin February 29, 2012 at 06:15 PM
It is understandable that many who would like to have attended the hearing to express their views could not do so because of other responsibilities. Please take a moment to write to Representative John Fernandes and Senator Richard Moore to express your views on H3913 and S2061. The address is State House, Boston, MA 02133. They can enter your comments into the hearing. Tom OLoughlin
Kim Poness February 29, 2012 at 06:19 PM
@Thomas OLoughlin - you make me wish I lived in Milford. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see the Chief of Police so engaged, so eloquent, so helpful to the citizens.
UglyHat February 29, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I do communicate with them – usually via e-mail. And I have to say while Rep. Fernandes and I don’t always agree, he is responsive and I get the feeling he understands my position. I’ve never heard from Mr. Moore. If e-mail is easier for any of you (as it is for me), the addresses I use are: John.Fernandes@mahouse.gov Richard.Moore@masenate.gov
Maurice February 29, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I'm so sorry for your lost . I whould feel the same thing ... But he was drunk that's was the problem.... Let me ask you one question so if he was legal he could get a license and if he had a license he whouldnt do that? So why we don't legalize it?
Laurie Ainsworth Warich February 29, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Ditto Kim!
Thomas OLoughlin February 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Kim, Thank you. As I did, you're always welcomed to move to Milford, it's a great community. Tom OLoughlin
Sandra February 29, 2012 at 07:10 PM
David, I was one of those landlords with violations after the neighborhood watch intimidated my tenants and banged on the door with cops and people in uniform asking to "come in and look around" (which I found out later is illegal, see boston case about this exact thing in Chelsea, it is intimidation). They said my porch was illegal and said I had debris in my yard (trash day was tommorow). Cost me over $2000 to fix!!! That said, Mary's work was not investigative but rather biased and slanted to say that us landlords were defiant. In fact the article was labeled "POUND AND HOUND"! how much more biased can you be! As far as I'm concerned people blame the landlords for problems that are not our fault. A faulty electrical wire, debris in yards, and illegal porch DID NOT RUN OVER MATHEW OR KILL ANYONE ELSE. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS DID AND UNTIL THE FEDS FIND A WAY TO STOP IT WILL NOT END. It is illegal for us landlords to discriminate against tenants who are illegal or othwerwise and there is nothing we can do until the feds solve this problem.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) February 29, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Sandra, the "pound and hound" was not a label, it is a headline, and it refers to the direct quotation in the story from Town Administrator Louis Celozzi. The town is enforcing zoning codes, health codes, fire codes, all of which were found to be in violation if your property was among those cited. The reporting is factual, not biased, but I would not describe it as investigative. These sweeps are being conducted across Milford, and it is a function of the town's government. In fact, in the testimony Tuesday, one of the state senators suggested that enforcement would be the way to address some of the provisions in the bill relating to housing.
Jim Rizoli February 29, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Maurice......So we give a license to someone who doesn't know the rules of the road....and he has a drinking problem!!!! If he had a license would he stop drinking? Don't think so.... Jim@ccfiile.com
Ray Fellows February 29, 2012 at 07:36 PM
This thread has broken down into personal attacks, ignorance and bigotry. I can no longer participate in this thread.
Jim Rizoli February 29, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Ray....How so...seems to me people are behaving themselves. Jim@ccfiile.com
David Nolta February 29, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I tend to believe the many American and British journalists who have supported their claims that President Obama has actually done more in his first three years to deport illegal aliens than any of the previous presidents in their entire terms of office. And Laurie, your coarseness and your name-calling are undignified to say the least. Why not set a higher standard for yourself and others? You might gain some of the credibility you throw away by making cheap cracks. Just a suggestion. Obama 2012!!
John Herbert February 29, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Hey Sandra landlords have the right to ask for references. Of course you may find yourself shy of tenants but where do you stand and draw a line? Rent out to questionable people, legal or illegal or find respectable tenants with a solid rental history?
John Herbert February 29, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Maurice there is a HUGE problem with undocumented citizens, drunk driving, driving without a license and the ability to register a vehicle in Massachusetts without a valid drivers license! If we allow illegal immigration we are telling our children that crime is okay - what do we do? If you are standing on a street corner selling drugs you are committing a crime and will be arrested regardless of your citizenship. If an illegal citizen is standing on the corning and is questioned by police and they find he or she does not have aVisa or Green Card NOTHING WILL BE DONE!!! Is this fair? Is it fair to grant amnesty to all who are here illegally? How about those currently in process to become U.S. citizens or those who have just completed the process, do you think it is fair that they had to study U.S. customs, politics and language? I mean Maurice do you even know what the Executive Branch of government is or who is the Commander in Chief? Tell you what if Massachusetts performed sobriety checks and impounded vehicles of those drunk and those driving without a drivers license, charging $1400 to release the car or truck from impound, well things would change dramatically.
Maurice February 29, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Oh so yeah ! Is the drink problem. Right thats is my point wasnt because he was illegal was because he was drunk ... Hmm ok ... So don't blame on the others! And gaman have to pay for what he did for the rest of his life I aggre with that .. But Guaman not the others!!!!!!!
ADH March 01, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Maurice - Blame the others for what? I'm not sure I get what point you're trying to drive. This is an article on local lawmakers attempts to reform the immigration situation in the Commonwealth. It's not about drunk driving. To the Chief and others who attended the hearings - I thank you for the stance you're taking on behalf of the community.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) March 01, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Maurice, the defendant in the Denice case, Nicolas Guaman, is not the only person who has been charged with driving without a license in Milford. This bill is not about one person. In his testimony, the police chief said officers are now pulling over drivers in Milford, who are driving without a valid license, at a rate of one a day. See the video clip I posted this afternoon. The sound is a little low, because the media was in a corner in the hearing room, but it may help explain the rationale for that part of the bill.
Mary MacDonald (Editor) March 01, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Mark, could you post that again without the name calling? Much appreciated.
Susan Petroni (Editor) March 02, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Kim I agree completely!
Joe Rizoli March 02, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Maurice, you really are doing a lousy job trying to prove you can't speak or in this case write English. Joe Rizoli

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