On Wednesday, Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll urged residents to consider hosting illegal immigrant families because the state is running out of room in its family shelter system, which caused Governor Maura Healy to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday.
During a press conference Wednesday, Driscoll said, "This is not a crisis that our family shelter system was designed to handle. For months now, the state government and our providers have been doing the work of stretching the system as far as it can safely go. But we really need to bring more people into this work to make it a true team effort."
"If you have an extra room or suite in your home, please consider hosting a family. Safe housing and shelter is our most pressing need,” she added.
Healey's office said in a press release on Tuesday that they needed to issue a state of emergency "due to rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving in Massachusetts in need of shelter and services and a severe lack of shelter availability in the state." It added, "There are currently nearly 5,600 families or more than 20,000 individuals in state shelter, including children and pregnant women."
Governor Healey blamed federal immigration policy, among other factors for the emergency, in a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
"This state of emergency arises from numerous factors, among them federal policies on immigration and work authorization, inadequate production of affordable housing over the last decade, and the end of COVID-era food and housing security programs," She said. "The need for action is urgent."
During the press conference, Healey said, "This is a national issue that demands a national response." She continued, "In the meantime, we’re simply asking the federal government to use the tools already available to give these brave parents a chance to work and support their families. At the same time, we’re calling on everyone in Massachusetts to come together, help us meet this moment in our state, and offer a helping hand."
She also added that the federal government expediting work authorizations for the illegal immigrants is the most important thing they can do to help alleviate the issue.
The government asking citizens to house foreigners is an issue that dates back to the founding of the country when Great Britain forced colonists to house soldiers in their homes via the Quartering Act of 1774. The founders felt so strongly against this practice that they banned it in the Third Amendment to the Constitution.
Cities and states that have sanctuary policies have been struggling to deal with the high influx of illegal immigrants lately. Hotels in New York City have been outfitted to deal with the crisis, but have started to want those coming that "There is no guarantee we will be able to provide shelter and services to new arrivals ... Please consider another city as you make your decision about where to settle in the US."
Massachusetts is the only state in the country with a right-to-shelter policy, which means they have to provide emergency housing to those in need.
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