Activist state

Gubernatorial candidate and state senator Sonia Chang-Díaz condemns xenophobia after celebrating new immigrant driver’s license bill

As gubernatorial hopeful and state senator Sonia Chang-Díaz this week celebrated the House’s passage of the Work and Family Mobility Act, allowing immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, she said. faced scathing racism on social media.

Chang-Díaz on Wednesday night hailed activists and immigrants “who fought hard” for legislation allowing people without proof of legal residency to alternatively apply for a driver’s license by showing other types of documents, including a valid foreign passport, an unexpired foreign driver’s license, and a marriage in Massachusetts. certificate. The House passed the bill on a vote of 120-36.

“It’s a really big deal” Chang-Díaz tweeted Wednesday, after saying earlier that people’s immigration status should not affect their ability to drive safely to work, doctor’s appointments or grocery stores. “We need to keep this momentum going and get this bill across the finish line. I look forward to unreservedly supporting the law on professional and family mobility in the Senate! »

His jubilant tone quickly changed when a Twitter user hurled vitriol at Chang-Díaz and his “guy.”

“You and your guy are ruining this great old Commonwealth,” the Twitter user, named JohnnyCol1981, said Thursday morning. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I hope you get run over by a drunk illegal and see how you feel.

Chang-Díaz, a former public school teacher and daughter of the nation’s first Latino astronaut, made history in 2008 when she was elected Massachusetts’ first Latino female senator. In a major endorsement last October, she won the support of Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts, a more than 15,000-member organization made up of people of color, immigrants, women and working class people.

Chang-Díaz, reflecting on her personal background, responded to the hateful post by stating that she is “proud to be the daughter of an immigrant.”

“Immigrants, documented and undocumented, are people, and they are essential to our Commonwealth,” Chang-Díaz said in a quote-marked tweet, in which she blocked the Twitter user’s name. “We cannot and will not tolerate this kind of violent xenophobia in Massachusetts.”

Attorney General Maura Healey, the gubernatorial frontrunner who made history as Massachusetts’ first openly gay AG, voiced her support for her opponent.

“The only inconvenient license here is the license some feel to attack elected women of color with racist and violent threats,” Healey said a reply tweet in Chang-Díaz on Thursday evening. “Thank you for standing up for what’s right, senator.”

Ben Downing, a former Pittsfield state senator who dropped out of the gubernatorial race in late December, also rallied around Chang-Díaz.

“Don’t let loud, violent voices of hate be the only ones” Downing wrote on Twitter. “I’m with my friend @SoniaChangDiaz and with all those – immigrants, advocates, public safety officials, elected officials and more – who worked to make yesterday’s historic vote possible. Forward, together.

The social media attack marked the latest case of racism and misogyny directed against elected women of color in Massachusetts. At a voting rights press conference at Boston Common on Monday, a protester heckled Beth Huang, the executive director of the Massachusetts Voters Table, mistakenly believing she was Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“You are a political puppet… Why don’t you look into it, Mayor Wu?” said the protester, angered by the ACLU’s handling of the Annie Dookhan scandal, in which the former state chemist tampered with and fabricated evidence in about 24,000 cases.

The protester appeared shocked that it wasn’t Wu – the target of early morning protests outside her Roslindale home over COVID-19 vaccination mandates – standing on the steps leading to the Massachusetts State House.

Huang shed light on the mistaken identity case on Twitter.

“If only being a 5-foot-4 Asian woman had imbued me with the powers of being mayor of Boston,” Huang said, though she later reflected on Wu’s ability to endure “so much vitriol (with ) grace and humor”.

Wu, in his unflappable tone, told Huang on Twitter with shrugging emojis, “We should be in good trouble with this.”

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