Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) is a formal coalition of immigrant and non-immigrant groups that formed in the Fall of 2000 in response to the needs of the rapidly growing, largely Latino immigrant population in Mississippi.
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, immigrant populations grew exponentially as reconstruction efforts began in the central and southern part of the state.
Through constant vigilance and activity, MIRA members have successfully advocated the defeat of anti-immigrant legislation introduced in Mississippi, including English-only bills and other oppressive measures.
More recently, immigrants’ rights issues and MIRA have been brought to the forefront at the state and national levels.
(MIRA) and Hurricane Katrina:
In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, MIRA was in the forefront of advocacy for the rights of immigrants impacted by the storm and immigrant workers who came to rebuild coastal Mississippi.
Over 10,000 flyers were distributed in immigrant communities with MIRA’s toll free number. MIRA’s organizers confronted landlords attempting to evict immigrant tenants, advocated for benefits from FEMA, the Red Cross and other agencies, and confronted wholesale evictions and abuse of Latinos by Red Cross shelter directors.
Through the funding of a national community partner, MIRA distributed at least $25,000 in emergency transportation, housing, food, clothing and medical funds. We met with hundreds of immigrant workers abused by unscrupulous contractors and helped the workers demonstrate in the streets and file claims for unpaid work. By the end of FY 2006, MIRA had helped immigrant workers recoup more than $1 million in back wages and unpaid money judgments.
Over the past 17 years, MIRA has…
- Successfully educated the Legislature.
- Helped pass a bill to uphold Plyler v. Doe, guaranteeing the enrollment in public schools of immigrant children regardless of status.
- Advocated for a framework for bilingual education in Mississippi.
- Advocated for the opening of the teacher licensing process to credit immigrant teachers for their education and experience.
- Organized successful responses to attempts to penalize immigrant workers whose employers receive “Social Security No-Match” letters, including helping to negotiate SSA response policies with major national employers.
- Sponsored meetings with local law enforcement agencies regarding treatment of immigrants, including:
- racial profiling,
- jail and detention conditions, and
- and securing of bilingual court reporters and other support personnel.
- Assisted our constituents through our Legal Project to obtain temporary and permanent residence and citizenship in the United States.
- Defended selected individuals in the immigration courts.