Blaze News investigates: Biden’s illegal immigration crisis pushes nation’s only right-to-shelter state to its breaking point

Massachusetts, the only state in the nation with a right-to-shelter law, is battling the budgetary consequences of its sanctuary policies amid the Biden administration’s self-inflicted border crisis.

The influx of illegal immigrants arriving in the state seeking taxpayer-funded shelter and aid does not appear as though it will let up any time soon. Massachusetts’ limited homeless shelter system reached capacity with 7,500 families in November. Since then, it has been relying on residents’ dollars to fund temporary “overflow” sites to house the illegal aliens that continue to flood into the state, with very few moving toward independence. Illegal immigrants residing in these overflow shelters are those currently on the state’s Emergency Assistance waitlist to move to more stable accommodations.

Gov. Maura Healey’s (D) administration reported that 11,000 individuals arrived from October 2022 through September 2023.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, told Blaze News, “I’ve estimated that the number of new illegal migrants under Biden is 50,000, which is a big increase over recent years.


“Certain politicians have put out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants, and it’s a well-known sanctuary state,” Vaughan added.

The financial impact on taxpayers

Massachusetts’ right-to-shelter law, passed in 1983, requires the state to provide housing to all pregnant women and families with children. The state’s shelter system considers children to be those under 21 years old. The law demands that the shelter accommodations include refrigeration and basic cooking facilities. In some overflow temporary emergency shelter locations that lack such amenities, taxpayers are dishing out more funds to pay vendors to deliver food to the illegal immigrants, a WBZ February report revealed.

The news outlet’s investigation discovered that Massachusetts taxpayers are spending roughly $64 per day to feed each illegal immigrant. The news outlet obtained vendor contracts for a number of services, including 17 hotel and motel contracts totaling over $116 million for fiscal year 2024, ending in June. Some of the hotels have also been contracted to provide three meals per day, WBZ reported.

The state’s Democratic leaders have asked the Biden administration to send more federal aid to keep up with the influx of illegal aliens, but local politicians remain resistant to the idea of reforming the right-to-shelter law or the state’s sanctuary policies.


“The short-term cost is enormous, but the long-term cost exists as well if people end up staying here,” she continued. “Most of them don’t qualify for any path to a Green Card, but unless there is much, much more robust enforcement of immigration laws, and less sanctuary policies, and when employers are not able to hire them, they’re going to stick around for awhile. All of those policy changes would take years to implement.”

Healey’s administration plans to begin sending out 90-day eviction notices in July to push some families to move from the state’s overwhelmed emergency shelter system by the end of September.

Instead of reevaluating the state’s policies that act as a magnet to illegal aliens, Healey has, like many other Democratic politicians, used the opportunity to blame Republicans in Congress for rejecting a Senate bill introduced earlier this year. Democratic lawmakers have remained steadfast and united in their claim that the legislation, if passed, would have stopped the uptick in illegal immigration. However, conservatives have repeatedly denied those claims and argued that the bill was not designed to fix the open border crisis.

At the time Healey announced new limits on shelter stays, she stated, “As Congress has repeatedly failed to act on this federal problem, Massachusetts has been going above and beyond.”

“This new length of stay policy will strengthen those efforts to connect families with the resources and services they need to move into more stable housing and contribute to our workforce,” Healey claimed.

Since Massachusetts ran out of emergency shelter space, some illegal aliens have been sleeping on the floor at Boston Logan International Airport. In recent months, the number of individuals using the airport as a shelter appears to have increased. Reports from early this month estimated that there are more than 100 illegal immigrants sleeping in the airport’s baggage claim area while they wait for other accommodations to become available.

Politicians force local residents to take a backseat to illegal aliens

Healey and her administration faced intense backlash from the Roxbury community after shuttering the neighborhood’s recreational center and using the space to house hundreds of illegal immigrants. Residents protested the decision, calling on Healey to open up shelters in more affluent neighborhoods instead.

After a few months of shelter operations, Healey announced that the recreational center in Roxbury, one of Massachusetts’ poorest neighborhoods, would reopen to the community for the summer. Residents’ displeasure appeared to push Healey to promise the facility would receive some updates prior to its grand reopening.


“A lot of the communities that have been hosting these new illegal migrants have been complaining about it. And there have been problems in a lot of these facilities,” Vaughan told Blaze News. “It’s almost like these shelters have become a hot potato that needs to be tossed around so that no one gets burned too badly.”

“It does not make sense to keep moving people around like this. And the state knows that many of them are still going to need shelter long after they would like them to move on,” she added.

The “hot potato,” which appears to have now been passed along to Norfolk, has residents upset and concerned about the state’s plans to convert the former correctional facility and push a massive uptick of children into the community’s already at-capacity school system.

During a June 4 Norfolk Select Board Bay State Community Forum, locals asked Healey’s administration whether it could guarantee that the correctional facility shelter would be closed within 12 months. A spokesperson for the governor’s office replied, “Our plan is based on the funding available. Our plan is to close it within six to 12 months.”

John Semas, a Norfolk resident, told WFXT, “There is no turning back when this happens, our schools are overcrowded as it is, we have a budget problem — this isn’t a humanitarian question, this is a mathematical question, it cannot happen.”

Vaughan told Blaze News that the Norfolk school system will be forced to “absorb enormous costs to provide schooling to all of these new arrivals.”

“A number of studies have shown that the costs of educating students who don’t speak English are 20% to 40% higher than native-born students,” Vaughan stated.


Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance explained the extent of the illegal immigration crisis’ impact on local school systems.

Craney told Blaze News, “Local towns are mandated by state law to provide education to any and all children residing within their borders. When the administration decides to convert a prison into a high capacity migrant shelter, the local school districts are required to educate all of the new children living there. The small towns these migrant camps are being sited in are being absolutely overwhelmed by the huge influx of children into their districts and are receiving next to no help from the state to mitigate the issue.”

Craney called on Healey to reform the right-to-shelter law.

“Instead, Governor Healey is jetsetting to Italy and passing the buck to federal politics,” he continued. “Governor Healey needs to take responsibility for this crisis and actually do something to remove the pull factors leading migrants to make the long journey from the open southern border all the way to Massachusetts. It’s time for her to take this issue seriously and reform the state’s right-to-shelter law.”

According to Axios, the state estimated it will cost $915 million in fiscal year 2025 to provide shelter accommodations to illegal aliens.

Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D), the chairman of the Massachusetts House Ways and Mean Committee, stated in March that the state is experiencing “a migrant crisis like no other state in the nation, one that has put our emergency family shelter system and our budget at a breaking point at the moment.”

Vaughan stated that Massachusetts is “a perfect case study that proves that you cannot have unlimited illegal immigration and a welfare state that guarantees everyone all of these services.”

“It’s just impossible to sustain,” she told Blaze News. “A lot of these people have immigration court dates that are five to seven years away. This is not a short-term problem; it’s a long-term fiscal problem.”

“Even if the border was shutdown tomorrow, the costs of this influx are going to remain for many years because, the longer that these families are allowed to stay, then they start becoming eligible for welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the means-tested welfare programs,” Vaughan remarked.


A GBH News/CommonWealth Beacon poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group revealed that immigration is a top concern for Massachusetts residents. Of the 1,000 individuals surveyed, 28% said “the current migrant situation” is “a crisis,” and another 39% called it a “major problem.” Despite the polled residents’ concerns, 79% said they still support the state’s right-to-shelter law. However, 47% said they do not support providing emergency shelter accommodations to illegal aliens, while 45% said they strongly or somewhat support providing it.

Massachusetts state Sen. Ryan Fattman (R) told Blaze News, “The Massachusetts Senate was given the opportunity to do right by our residents and the majority party failed to do so. I have been advocating for a residency requirement since the state budget debate in 2023.


“The outrageous costs of this right-to-shelter program are continuing to add up totaling over $1.2 billion,” Fattman continued. “Not only does this prove to be wildly unfair to residents of the Commonwealth, it is unfair to the vast majority of programs in the state whose funds are being cut because there isn’t room in the budget. I will continue to highlight this issue because the hard working people of Massachusetts deserve to have their tax dollars spent in a way that benefits all of us.”

* Original Article: