Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey said on Monday that the state’s shelter system is at capacity owing to an influx of illegal immigrants and that the state can no longer guarantee refuge for migrant families.
During a press conference at the state House, Healey, a Democrat, stated that “we are entering a new phase of this challenge—we can no longer guarantee shelter placement for families who are sent here.”
According to officials, Massachusetts’ shelter system presently houses over 23,000 people, including nearly 7,000 families. The system has a capacity of 24,000 people or 7,500 families, and officials expect it to be full by the end of October.
As the colder months approach, Healey said, families with higher requirements, such as health and safety concerns, will be prioritized for housing.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to engage, assess and serve every family who appeals for help as best we can,” the governor said.
Massachusetts has a legal commitment to provide the “right to shelter” to migrant and homeless families, which Healey says will not be terminated.
“We are not ending the right-to-shelter law,” Healey said. “We are being very clear, though, that we are not going to be able to guarantee placement for folks who are sent here after the end of this month.”
Healey announced a state of emergency over the migrant crisis in August, mobilizing 250 state National Guard personnel to assist shelters and motels sheltering refugees.
Healey has already requested the Biden administration provide federal assistance to Massachusetts in response to the problem, as well as expedite the work visa processing process for migrants.
“This again affirms my call to the Biden administration,” the governor said Monday. “I think they know and understand clearly what it is that we are seeking and those discussions are continuing. I’m hopeful that they will result in action soon for our state. But in the meantime we can’t wait.”
Other states and cities are dealing with a massive surge of undocumented migrants who have arrived in recent months.
A comparable shelter situation exists in New York City. More than 118,000 migrants have come since last year, with over 600 new migrants entering every day. More than 64,000 people are still sheltered by the city’s money.
More than 18,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago, with more arriving every day. Chicago approved a $29.4 million contract with a private security agency last month to develop huge winterized camps for freshly arrived illegal migrants.