“We need immigration reform, we need it now, we needed it yesterday and the federal government has got to act.” Democratic candidate Maura Healey opined to The Irish Emigrant.

An accomplished civil rights lawyer, Healey, is hoping to succeed incumbent Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley when the general election takes place in November. However first, she must go head to head with former state senator and other Democratic candidate hopeful, Warren Tolman, at the primary on September 9.

An alumna of Harvard University, Healey, started her career as a lawyer before leaving private practice in 2007 to become Head of the Civil Rights Division and as Chief of Public Protection, Business & Labor Bureaus at the Attorney General (AG) office. As chief of these bureaus, she supervised a large range of areas including fair labor, health care, and civil rights.

Citing cases that she has been involved with, the Irish American, is proud of her efforts to help those who have needed an advocate, “Whether I was trying to protect home-owners from fore-closures, trying to protect senior citizens from scams, trying to help parents whose children had been bullied in schools…… that’s what the office means to me and that is why I am running.”

One of Healey’s most notable cases was when she successfully argued for the state’s case against the Defense of Marriage Act, which led in 2010, to the first ruling in the nation to strike down the law. Healey believes that it is the type of hands on experience in the legal profession that makes her the only truly qualified candidate for the position of Attorney General.

“I come to this as somebody who has been arguing and wining cases for people, [those] with disabilities, [those] people who got taken advantage of by mortgage companies, people who were attacked in hate crimes, people who needed somebody to step in and fight for them in court. I have come to this with the experience of having been a prosecutor, a civil rights lawyer, in having led half of the AG office and that is a very different experience from my opponent[ Warren Tolman].”

The first of five children, Healey credits her Irish heritage with instilling this deep passion for helping others.

Healey’s great grandmother, Katherine Tracy was a native of Ballinasloe, County Galway, who immigrated to America as a teenager and lived to the age of 96. Her paternal grandparents, Jeremiah and Margaret (Riordan) Healey, emigrated from Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry and Macroom, Co. Cork.

The 43-year-old fondly recalls her Irish elders and feels blessed that because of their sacrifices,she has been able to live a fortunate life. Healey said “They came to this country under difficult circumstances, fleeing real poverty in Ireland, and real depression, a difficult hard situation, and they worked so hard.”

“It was their principles and their values I was raised with and I learned a lot growing up about taking care of family, taking care of those who need an advocate, those who need help.”

Because of this personal connection to the immigrant experience, Healey, is a vocal supporter of immigration reform. The Attorney General hopeful believes a change is needed “My view here is I am the grand-daughter of immigrants, this is a country of immigrants, it is part of what makes us great as a country, and as a democracy. I will do everything that I can to advocate for and support immigration reform.”

Whilst the debate of immigration reform is set to continue for sometime on Capitol Hill, Healey, is keen to point out if elected, she will play her part in ensuring undocumented residents will not be forgotten at a state level.

“I know there is a lot of Irish who are laborers, carpenters, electricians and it is really important that they are not taken advantage of on the job, there are a lot of people working in an underground economy, who are really vulnerable, they are really afraid to come forward because they may not have a documented status, and I want them to know as Attorney General, I will enforce fair labor laws to protect them, I will enforce civil rights laws to protect them.” Healey said.

When pressed, if elected as the state’s top prosecutor, would she enforce current immigration laws which include the controversial federal secure communities program, Healey contends “I want to support things that are working, not things that aren’t working, and I have seen instances where bread-winners have been taken away from their families through programs like that.”

“I‘d rather spend my time dealing dangerous criminals, taking on human traffickers, gun traffickers, taking on those who are scamming people, those who are committing domestic violence, you name it, those are the places I’d rather prioritize my prosecution resources.”

Healey, who is a political novice admits running a campaign has been a real eye-opener, saying “It is fast and it is furious and the days are full…."

Chuckling she added "But you know I’m Irish… I love talking to people, listening to people, and meeting people and this has been great way to be able to do that across the state.”

The winner of the Sept. 9 Democratic primary goes on to face Republican nominee John Miller in November.