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Massachusetts Governor Meets With Ethnic Media

New England Ethnic News, News Report, Eduardo A. de Oliveira Posted: Apr 27, 2009

BOSTON -- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick met with ethnic media at the State House on April 24, 2009, where he defended the creation of partnerships with immigrant communities, answered questions on topics such as bilingual education and drivers licenses, and commented on race relations during an Obama presidency.

The audience of about 50 journalists more than 35 from immigrant communities came from African-American, Brazilian, Chinese, Haitian, Japanese, Korean, Latino, Polish, Portuguese and other print, broadcast and Web media.

The governor made brief remarks at the opening of the press conference, saying democracy thrives when it maintains an unfiltered press. He then opened the floor to the journalists questions on topics from anywhere in your agenda you want, he said.

At least one topic formed a common thread for many of the journalists: access to driver's licenses for undocumented workers, of whom many contribute to the state economy and pay taxes.

An EthnicNEWz.org reporter told the governor that five police chiefs in Massachusetts say that giving drivers licenses to such workers would increase public safety on the roads.

The issue is that the Real ID Act [the federal law that calls for the creation of a common drivers license for the entire country] doesnt permit a unilateral [state] approach without consequences, Gov. Patrick replied. This is a small piece of a broader picture called immigration reform. And when people talk about the difference between lawful and unlawful immigrants, I get that. But we need immigration laws that are consistent with our values.

The topic was revisited at least five times during the press conference.

Marcony Almeida, editor of Brazilian Journal magazine, inquired whether the governor would seek a state solution if the Real ID Act ended, as Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano has proposed.

The costs of the Real ID Act are profound. Most states dont have the money to implement it. If that obstacle is not there, we can look at it, the governor replied.

In response to a question about race relations in the US, Gov. Patrick, the second African-American governor in US history, acknowledged, America did not change because of Obamas election or mine. But he did opine that young black Americans already think differently about themselves as a result of such elections.

Relaxed and at ease, Gov. Patrick made the rounds in the conference room of answering the journalists questions.
Still, he was firm in answering one question, from a Rumbo newspaper reporter, when asked what he would do about alleged misconduct of police in Lawrence.I have enough to do at the Commonwealth without having to think of the city of Lawrence, the governor replied.

At the conferences end, Gov. Patrick, who will run for reelection in 2010, suggested meeting again, perhaps quarterly, with ethnic media.

He also welcomed a suggestion of Polish White Eagle co-publisher Marcin Bolec that his office have an ethnic-media liaison to communicate on issues particular to the journalists communities.
When Bolec added that the liaison would be on a volunteer basis, Gov. Patrick laughed with delight. Faced with a dismal economy and revenue setbacks for the state, he joked, "I appreciate that part!"
Following are edited excerpts of Gov. Patricks responses to questions at the press conference:

Patrick said that immigration reform, which would help Massachusetts, must include a path to citizenship for those who have been in the US for generations. Taking people out of the shadows of being undocumented would help the local economy and would provide a new stream of tax revenue.

Of the countries I have visited, America is the only one where speaking only one language is considered a good thing. For Patrick, Question 2 (a 2002 ballot initiative that rescinded the method of bilingual education in Massachusetts) points to the wrong direction. But he did say that he admires immigrant students who grasp the language and succeed in this country.

Declaring himself a great believer of in-state-tuition for undocumented students, Patrick said his administration looked hard at ways to allow this benefit without having to go through the legislative process, such as by passing an executive order. But we could not do it without the Legislature running afoul. The Governor said the Legislature has its hand full with other projects, including CORI reform, but the issue would be put forward the end of June.

Our approach is to raise revenue for specific needs, not to fund the status quo. Patrick said he is against increasing the states sales tax, and highlighted that his administration must be disciplined about how to use the publics money.

The governor explained that President Obamas economic stimulus package brings little money to small business, most of it going to the clean technology sector. But he asked for support in divulging a new project that will create 10,000 summer jobs for youth and young adults that can become permanent positions.

The Latino community is probably the most entrepreneurial in the entire country. Massachusetts population is more entrepreneurial than in most parts of the county. The governor said Latinos should have more access to capital and coaching many of them have become successful entrepreneurs in business niches. In addition, he said he has noticed a huge sensitivity amongst Latinos on immigration issues, even amongst those who are US citizens. I know they feel sad because of the lack of alignment of our laws with our values, Patrick concluded.

Related Articles:

The Danger of Losing the Ethnic Media

Dear White House - Questions From Ethnic Media

New England Honors Ethnic Media

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