Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey has declared a state of emergency in response to a surge of migrants and refugees. The situation, affecting nearly 5,600 families or over 20,000 people within the state shelter system, is being attributed to federal policies on immigration and work authorization, the lack of affordable housing, and the cessation of COVID-era programs.

Healey’s declaration comes as part of a broader call for help by liberal jurisdictions like New York City, Chicago, and the state of New York, all of which have declared emergencies in response to a wave of migrants. Though the numbers are a small fraction of the total migrants arriving at the U.S. border each month, these areas report being overwhelmed.

In July alone, there were 100 families per day seeking emergency shelter in Massachusetts, with the number leaving shelters decreasing by two-thirds since 2019. The costs associated with these programs are reportedly reaching $45 million a month. Healey, emphasizing the state’s tradition of being a beacon for those in need, points to complications such as confusing immigration laws, the inability for migrants to get work authorization, an increase in people coming to the state, and a shortage of affordable housing.

Healey’s appeal to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas includes requests for actions to remove barriers for work permits for migrants, an overhaul of what she sees as outdated and punitive immigration laws, and the provision of additional financial aid to the state. Her call highlights a larger challenge faced by multiple liberal jurisdictions that are grappling with the needs and implications of increased migration.

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