Massachusetts officials are the latest in a string of authorities in “sanctuary states” that have now declared a state of emergency over an influx of illegal aliens who have arrived after crossing the U.S. southern border.
Other areas including New York City, Chicago, and Washington have declared themselves “sanctuary” jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal officials seeking to enforce U.S. immigration law.
“This is a national issue that demands a national response,” Gov. Maura Healey (D-MA) said during an Aug. 8 press conference to address the crisis. “Today, I am declaring a state of emergency in Massachusetts.”
The declaration serves as a notice to the federal government that the state’s shelter system is collapsing and that local officials need assistance, the Governor’s Office said in a joint statement. Currently, there are more than 20,000 people, including children and pregnant women, in a state shelter.
Just two weeks ago, Healey asked local residents to open their personal homes and apartments to provide accommodations for migrants in need of shelter.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (HDS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Healey attributed the migrant surge in her state to “numerous factors,” including federal policies on immigration and work authorization, lack of affordable housing, and the end of COVID-era food and housing security programs.
She did not mention the thousands of migrants being flown to Massachusetts by border state governors transporting illegal aliens to sanctuary states to lessen the burden border states shoulder as a result of illegal entry to the U.S., which has surged since President Joe Biden took office.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) says three factors are driving the surge in illegal migration to the U.S.
- Employers and businesses re-opening and hiring new workers during the post-COVID recovery, along with border and flight restrictions being relaxed globally, making access to the United States and its borders easier.
- The Biden administration’s policies creating strong pull factors that encourage more illegal migration, ofter exacerbating external push factors.
- The Biden administration’s new policy of releasing illegal aliens en masse into the U.S.
Healey, who has been governor since Jan. 5, told Mayorkas that more than 80 cities and towns across the state area hosting migrant families, including 1,800 families who are living in hotels and motels. Last spring, she explained, only 25 migrant families per day requested help from the state. As of July 2023, that number has risen to more than 100 families per day, she said.
Despite Massachusetts currently spending more than $45 million per month on programs to help migrant families, Healey says it is not enough to meet the rapidly rising demand for emergency shelter. Under the state’s “right-to-shelter” law, signed into law in 1983, officials are statutorily required to provide shelter to eligible families. Homeless U.S. residents are not covered under the law.
“Our Emergency Assistance system is designed to be a temporary, emergency safety-net program. It is not equipped to handle the demand that we have seen in recent months,” Lieutenant Gov. Kim Driscoll said in the statement. “While we have made herculean efforts to expand capacity as much as possible, we’ve reached a point where the expansion is unsustainable.”
Since Biden was sworn in, more than 5.5 million illegal aliens have entered the U.S., according to FAIR.
During Fiscal Year 2022, Border Patrol officials had more than 2.7 million migrant encounters, more than during all four years of the Trump administration combined.
FAIR estimates that the current net cost to the U.S. for illegal immigration tops $150.7 billion per year.