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Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 1987: Boston City Hall Announces Plans for an Immigrant Rights Office to Help Irish, Haitian and South American Immigrants

On August 25, 1987, Boston Mayor Ray Flynn announced plans to open an Immigrant Rights Unit at Boston City Hall to help the city's immigrant community with health care and legal services, according to a story in the Boston Globe by reporter Andrew Blake.

"It is my belief that the right to health care is a human right," Flynn said in a statement issued that day. "For that reason, the extensive range of services available at Boston City Hospital and the City Health Department's 25 neighborhood health care centers are available to all people in need of health care....the city of Boston again must lead the way by setting an example of what a humane government must do in order to assist those who have come to our city in search of a better life."

The Immigrant Rights Unit officially opened on October 1, 1987, and served a mixture of Irish, Haitian and Central American immigrants.  It relied on one paid staffer and a network of volunteer lawyers and health service specialists.

The unit opened during a time when federal officials were starting to crack down on illegal immigrants living in the United States. 

Find more about Boston's Irish heritage by visiting