Imagility News

Biden Administration Officials Set to Visit Massachusetts, Examining Effects of Border Crisis in State with ‘Sanctuary’ Status

The White House is dispatching officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Massachusetts in response to Governor Maura Healey’s call for the Biden administration to witness firsthand the impact of the border crisis on the state.

According to a statement provided to CBS News, a DHS team will visit New England to “evaluate the current migrant situation and explore ways to enhance efficiency and maximize support for communities addressing migrant needs.”

White House representatives have been in constant communication with the Healey administration, expressing commitment to coordination with the city and commonwealth. The aim is to identify best practices and ways the federal government can assist Boston and Massachusetts until Congress addresses the nation’s immigration system.

While the White House did not provide comments on the development, and the DHS refrained from confirming visit details, a DHS spokesperson emphasized coordination with Boston and Massachusetts. The spokesperson emphasized the need to support communities addressing migrant needs while enforcing consequences against those without legal grounds to remain in the country.

Governor Healey and Representative Jake Auchincloss had earlier called on President Biden for assistance in mid-September. Massachusetts labeled a “sanctuary” state, declared a state of emergency in August due to its challenges in handling a surge of illegal immigrants released from federal custody at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The impact on Massachusetts is evident in the use of two motels in Sturbridge to house immigrants, affecting the local economy, especially during peak tourism season. Sturbridge Town Administrator Robin Grimm highlighted the incalculable impact on lost revenue and taxes.

Despite the Biden administration highlighting $2.8 million in aid provided to Boston since October 2022, Healey stressed the financial strain on the state in providing shelter for the increasing number of immigrants. The state’s 1983 “right to shelter” law guarantees immediate state-provided housing to any family, regardless of immigration status.

Healey emphasized that the issue is a federal government responsibility, stating that the state cannot financially or logistically respond to the 20,000 people living in state-funded shelters and emergency facilities statewide.

Massachusetts joins other sanctuary zones like New York City, Chicago, and Washington in grappling with the challenges of accommodating immigrants released into their communities. In 2017, the state’s top court ruled that court officers lack the authority to arrest or hold an illegal immigrant solely based on a federal immigration request.

Massachusetts has implemented initiatives to support immigrants awaiting asylum and deportation proceedings. Recently, the state started allowing noncitizens to obtain noncommercial driver’s licenses, and illegal immigrants are eligible for state assistance programs covering food costs, select healthcare coverage, and financial aid for rent.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a 2024 GOP presidential candidate, has criticized Massachusetts’s sanctuary status, highlighting it during a controversial move to fly a group of illegal immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. The incident sparked local backlash, with residents questioning the state’s support for immigrants entering the country unlawfully.

Source: MSN