emergency in massachusetts, govt. requests aid for migrants
Tuesday, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency as migrant and refugee shelters reached capacity and requested federal assistance.
In a letter addressed to US Secretary of homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas, Healey stated: To our federal partners, Massachusetts has stepped up to address what has sadly been a decades-long federal crisis of inaction.
We can no longer accomplish this alone. To meet this challenge and continue serving some of our most vulnerable families, we need federal partnership, federal funding, and urgent federal action.
There are approximately 5,600 families in shelters in the state, a significant increase from last year’s 3,100. Approximately 1,800 additional homeless families are currently residing in hotels and motels.
Delays in issuing work permits to people awaiting the resolution of their legal cases within the immigration system exacerbate the situation. The agency responsible for approving and renewing work permits in the United States, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attributes the delays to the Covid pandemic, which it says strained its resources and disrupted processes.
Healey also cited a confusing web of immigration laws, a lack of affordable housing, and an increase in the number of people moving to Massachusetts as contributing factors.
Massachusetts is the only state with a “right to shelter” statute mandating immediate housing for qualified families.
In the past, Massachusetts has received migrants via bus or airplane from other states without prior bilateral agreements.
In September of last year, Ron DeSantis, the far-right governor of Florida, arranged for 50 Venezuelan migrants to be flown unannounced to the upscale tourist island of Martha’s Vineyard, causing what local officials termed an “urgent humanitarian situation.”
Many of these migrants claimed they were enticed with false promises of safety and employment that had not been arranged, despite the fact that many locals scrambled to welcome and provide for the sudden new arrivals.
Texas, another conservative state led by governor Greg Abbott, has also bused hundreds of migrants to so-called sanctuary cities in the northeast – Democratic-run cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement.