Lucas: No help from feds as migrants fill Massachusetts shelters

Tomorrow is Halloween.

It is also Gov. Maura Healey’s deadline for taking in new immigrant families who are flocking to Massachusetts seeking free housing and support under the state’s “right to shelter” law.

So, if a family with children comes trick or treating at your door looking for shelter, they are liable to be immigrants from Haiti or Afghanistan or Ecuador looking for a place to crash.

Massachusetts is an internationally known sanctuary or handout state.

That may be an exaggeration, but you get the point.

The state is so overflowing with migrants that there are no longer the means to care for them.

There is no more room at the inn, Healey said in so many words– as if that will stop them from coming. Massachusetts is overflowing with immigrant families from around the world with few places to house them.

“If there is no place for them, where do they go?” House Speaker Ron Mariano sensibly asked.

It is a good question.

But Healey does not seem to have a good answer. She said that even though the state does not have “enough space, service providers or funds” to expand shelters, “Families with high need, including health and safety risks, will be prioritized for shelter placement.”

If the shelters are full, newly arrived immigrant families will be placed on a waitlist if they are not “immediately connected with shelter.”

Since no immigrants, let alone illegal immigrants, are sent back to where they came from, where do they stay while waiting to be housed?  In tents on the Boston Common? Not likely.

Healey’s remarks translated mean that the state will somehow continue to house and feed incoming immigrant families despite their immigrant status and despite Healey’ Halloween deadline that goes into effect Tuesday.

Winter is coming and no one should be left out in the cold. Everybody agrees on that.

The challenge is coming up with a solution.

While the state has the capacity to accommodate 7,500 immigrant families, or 24,000 individuals, there are currently some 7,200 families in the system, 3,489 families with children living in hotels and motels and 3,629 in traditional shelters.

They get taxpayer-funded free housing, free food, free medical care, security, free schooling for the children and so on. The taxpayers get the bill without even a thank you.

They are still coming, and the problem is still growing.

Unless Healey gets a handle on it, it will consume her administration just the way the COVID pandemic consumed Gov. Charlie Baker, her predecessor, limiting the time and energy he could have spent on other issues, like the MBTA, for instance.

But just as COVID was not Baker’s fault, Healey, although a welcoming progressive, had nothing to do with the immigrant invasion. It was Joe Biden who opened the borders and let millions of foreigners into the country with no questions asked.

It is also Biden who has refused to deal with the problem or provide Healey with the federal funds she needs to pay for Biden’s reckless and wrongheaded open door immigration policy.

And all the big talkers of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Eddie Markey on down, have been unable to extract a dime from Biden to deal with the problem.

Healey was rightly proud to have signed into law the recent tax cut bill.

But at the rate the state is spending money on the immigrants, and with no help from Biden, she soon may have to raise taxes to pay for it all.

It is costing Massachusetts taxpayers $45 million a month to house and care for the immigrants already here. Healey has already burned through $350 million previously appropriated for the immigrants. She is now asking the Legislature for $250 million more.

If the additional $250 million is approved by the Legislature—which it has not yet taken up—Speaker Mariano said it would not even be enough “to get us to the end of this month.”

The end of the month is here.

Happy Halloween.

Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.

Arnulfo Franco/ Associated Press file

Haitian migrants wade across the Tuquesa river after trekking through the Darien Gap in Bajo Chiquito, Panama, earlier this month. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco, File)

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