Dem Governor Declares Emergency, Requests Federal Action

Gov. Maura Healey of liberal Massachusetts has proclaimed a state of emergency owing to the influx of migrants straining the state’s social services.

Several issues, including federal rules on immigration and work authorization, a shortage of affordable housing, and the end of COVID-era services, have contributed to the over 20,000 people in the state’s shelter system, which serves around 5,600 families. Despite its distance from the southern border, Massachusetts has asked the federal government for help with the influx of migrants.

Monthly border crossings have seen a modest percentage of the total inflow of migrants. However, the impacted regions have said they cannot accommodate the growing number of migrants. One hundred families a day were looking for temporary housing in July. Since 2019, the monthly cost of programs has risen to $45 million, while the number of families leaving shelters has dropped by two-thirds.

Many of these households have relocated to the Bay State from elsewhere, enticed by its reputation as an inclusive and welcoming community. She pointed the finger at Massachusetts’s inadequate supply of low-cost housing, the state’s complex immigration regulations, the difficulty migrants have in obtaining federal work permits, and the rising influx of newcomers.

Healey asked Mayorkas to lobby Congress and take executive action to ease the process of obtaining work permits for migrants, modernize harsh immigration policies, and increase federal funding for Massachusetts. Mayorkas has also supported the administration’s need for more border security funds from Congress.

Over $2.8 million was allocated to Boston in FY2023 by the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program. To coordinate efforts and urge Congress to approve comprehensive immigration reform, the administration will keep working directly with municipal and state authorities.

Republican lawmakers and others have been vocal in their resistance to proposals for immigration reform and more spending. House Republicans introduced and passed substantial measures earlier this year to tighten asylum loopholes and increase border security.