Our next meeting will be held on February 10th starting at 7:00PM.  Our featured speaker will be Attorney Katie Condon, from MetroWest Legal Services who will discuss legal and medical needs of immigrant children.  Her presentation will be practical and not theoretical – this is what is happening every day.

Donations:  At a prior meeting of the Task Force, it was decided we would not charge dues in order to be a member.  Rather we would ask you to send a suggested contribution of $25.00 per person or $50.00 per entity to help support our activities and events. Please use the $25.00 figure as a suggestion, not a minimum, nor maximum.  In addition the Task Force would welcome contributions “ in memory of”  and “ in honor of” any individuals you would like. You can use PayPal by going to our website (https://www.immigrationneedham.org) and click on the “DONATE “ Link or you can a check directly to our Treasurer, Bill Okerman, 100 Meetinghouse Circle, Needham, MA 02492.  You will receive an acknowledgement to use for tax purposes, since the Task Force is a 501( C ) (3)  charitable corporation.


I received the following good news from one of the 3 faith based organizations, Church World Service (CWS), Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS), and Lutheran Immigrant & Refugee Services (LIRS) that brought an action to halt implementation of Trump’s policy to allow states and municipalities to refuse acceptance of refugees.  To date only Texas has refused to accept new refugees.

“We have great news! On January 15th, a federal judge ruled in favor in HIAS v. Trump, blocking the administration’s executive order that gave states and municipalities the authority to deny refugee resettlement in their communities. It’s a huge win for refugees.  Click here for statement, the court order, and judge’s opinion.  The judge said that the executive order is “unlawful,” “flies in the face of clear Congressional intent” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest”. The decision reflects the values of a country with a long tradition of welcoming refugees. In fact, before the decision was announced, 42 governors had already declared their support for refugee resettlement, following powerful advocacy campaigns in all 50 states. While a final ruling is yet to come, today is a huge win for the refugee program.”

ACLU and several other human rights groups have sued the Administration over its policy of sending applicants seeking asylum in the US to Guatemala to seek asylum there.  The suit alleges that “asylum seekers seeking protection in Guatemala is not an option. The country lacks a full and fair asylum processing system, and is often more dangerous for migrants than it is for Guatemalans, who have fled the country in large numbers.”  The US Dept of State, in its travel advisory for US citizens intending to travel to Guatemala has cautioned, “Violent crime, such as armed robbery and murder, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. …”. You might wish to write to the Dept of Homeland Security and the President.


Cynthia has asked I send the following:  Martin Luther King Jr Day will be celebrated on Monday, JANUARY 20, 2020  from 10:00am – Noon at the Pollard Middle School Auditorium, 200 Harris Ave.  Doors open at 9:30am. Pasteries and coffee will be available.  The program is co-sponsored by the Needham Diversity Initiative, Needham Clergy Association, Needham Public Schools and its METCO Program, and the Needham Human Rights Committee.

JANUARY 24, 2020  11:00 a.m. Support the SAFE COMMUNITIES ACT   Please call your MA Representative and Senator(s)to support the Safe Communities Act.  Click here to send emails to your MA State Legislator(s).   The Safe Communities Act hearing is scheduled for Fri., Jan. 24, 2020, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Gardiner Auditorium at the MA State House, 24 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02133 PLEASE CONTACT MIRA (agrunder@miracoalition.org) TO SIGN UP FOR A TIME TO ATTEND THE HEARING.  MIRA INTENDS TO HAVE A ROTATING NUMBER OF ATTENDEES, SO YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO BE THERE ALL DAY, and the auditorium will be full of supporters..

JANUARY 26, 2020: “I Am Every Migrant Child: Reflections of a World War II Orphan” On Sunday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 PM at Temple Beth Shalom, 670 Highland Avenue in Needham, author, survivor, and renowned speaker, Sylvia Gutmann will share her story as a migrant child and how that experience resonates today. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by Temple Beth Shalom Tzedek, the Needham League of Women Voters, the Needham Area Immigration Justice Task Force, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

JANUARY 30, 2020:  The Trustees of the Needham Free Public Library, the Needham Diversity Initiative and the Needham Human Rights Committee are holding a Diversity and Discussion Book Club Meeting on January 30th at 7:30PM at the Library.  The discussion will be based upon the book We are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults by Susan Kuklin.  The book is available as an ebook or may be obtained thru an inter-library loan request.  For further information contact Anna Giraldo-Kerr, a Trustee of the Needham Free Public Library(Anna.giraldokerr@gmail.com)

FEBRUARY 8:  Unitarian Universalist Area Church, 11 Washington Street, Sherborn will hold a panel discussion from 9:30am – 2:30pm,  on how climate change effects social justice.  Panelists will include Susan Church, Immigration Lawyer; Sonja Spears, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program; and Craig Altemose, Founding Executive Director, the Better Future Project. A sliding scale for tickets may be found at racialjustice@uuac.org.

MARCH 22: The Needham League of Women Voters is again sponsoring a Civics Bee on Sunday, March 22d.  If interested in joining a team from there Task Force, please contact me.


MIRA and AILA NE are holding a joint Citizenship Day program to assist immigrants in completing their citizenship applications.  The event will take place at MIRA’s offices, 105 Chauncy Street, Basement, Boston, on January 31st from 9:30am -3:00pm.  You need not “work” the entire day, but it would be helpful to the MIRA staff if you could let them know the hours you could participate.  Bagels and coffee for breakfast; pizza and salad for lunch will be provided.  You need not have had any prior experience because a training session will be held on Tuesday evening, January 28th from 5:30pm – 7:00pm.  You can register for the program at:  https://www.evenbrite.com/e/boston-citizenship-clinic-tickets-88839648781.  For further information or questions, contact Mahsa Khanbabai, AILA Chapter Chair (Mahsa@mk-immigration.com.)  MIRA’s offices are accessible by the Downtown Crossing and Chinatown stops on the Orange/Red Line.  If you volunteer please let MIRA know you are from the Task Force.

Interested in the Needham Community Council ESL Tutor Program?  The Needham Community Council is now accepting applications for its next training session to be held in March.  You must be fluent in English and attend a free, 10 hour training session.  Tutors can opt to work with an individual or with a group as a conversation group leader.  For more information, visit the ESL page on its  website ESL@NeedhamCommunityCouncil.org.  Fill in the form and your name will be added to the waiting list.  If you have any specific questions, contact the program director, Olga Lyczmanenko at 781-444-2415.


ASYLUM STATISTICS FOR BOSTON IMMIGRATION :  Quoting statistics complied by TRAC, Commonwealth Magazine notes that the Boston Immigration Court is among the highest in the nation in granting asylum cases.  SEE:


BORDER WALL FUNDING:  On January 14, The NY Times reported that President Trump plans to divert $7.2 billion from the military for the construction of a wall on the southern border, two people familiar with the plans told The Times. Congress had set aside $1.375 billion in the agreed upon budget for it last month.  You may remember that the Times back on December 12th had reported that the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Defense will investigate a $400 million contract for border wall construction awarded to a North Dakota company after President Trump privately pushed the deal. The Department of the Army previously found that the company was unqualified and had failed to meet the specifications for the project.  In addition the administration intends to “re-program”  $3.5 billion from counter-drug program funding, according to internal figures first obtained by the Washington Post. With the money, the government could pay for about 885 miles of new fencing by the spring of 2022.  Maybe a good subject for post cards to our Congressional delegation, as well as the House Oversight Committee.

Have a wonderful week,

Gerry Rovner