Healey, other governors push feds on immigration

Gov. Maura Healey speaks during a press conference in August. Healey joined eight counterparts from other states in a new plea for federal immigration action, including funding to support states that have spent billions of dollars placing new migrant arrivals into emergency shelters.

Gov. Maura Healey speaks during a press conference in August. Healey joined eight counterparts from other states in a new plea for federal immigration action, including funding to support states that have spent billions of dollars placing new migrant arrivals into emergency shelters. STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE/SAM DORAN

By CHRIS LISINSKI

State House News Service

Published: 01-24-2024 12:23 PM

Gov. Maura Healey joined eight counterparts from other states in a new plea for federal immigration action, including funding to support states that have spent billions of dollars placing new migrant arrivals into emergency shelters.

Nine governors, all Democrats who collectively represent more than 100 million Americans, wrote to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders from both parties on Monday, urging them to “work together to solve what has become a humanitarian crisis.”

The governors said global migration is at a “historic high,” driving sharp increases in new arrivals to cities and states that “lack the vast coordinated infrastructure needed to respond to the humanitarian and public safety concerns of those seeking lawful entry into the United States.”

They said a $106 billion supplemental funding request Biden proposed last year would offer “a minimum level of funding and actions” needed to address the issues.

“While political motivations continue to delay the negotiations, our economy, states and localities are bearing the brunt of the shortcomings of the existing immigration system,” the governors wrote. “Therefore, as you return to Washington to resume work on critical federal funding measures, we strongly urge Congress and the administration to quickly negotiate an agreement on a border security legislative package that includes federal coordination and decompression at the southern and northern borders; federal funding for both border and interior states and cities receiving new arrivals; and a serious commitment to modernizing our immigration system in the United States.”

In Massachusetts, the Healey administration estimates a record level of demand on the state’s emergency shelter system fueled in part by new migrant arrivals will cost more than $900 million annually in fiscal year 2024 and in fiscal year 2025.

Healey said in her State of the Commonwealth speech last week she would “continue to demand that Congress take action to fix the border, to get us funding.” Asked last week to elaborate on what border fixes Healey supports, a spokesperson said the governor backs Biden’s supplemental budget request and linked to a fact sheet the White House produced in October.

Healey and fellow governors then doubled down on their support of the supplemental funding proposal in their new letter Monday.

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“This is not a problem that Massachusetts created. However, it’s a problem that we’re having to deal with right now,” Healey said Monday, echoing a line that she used in her State of the Commonwealth speech.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz suggested in a television interview that aired Sunday that Massachusetts might only receive $40 million to $50 million in migrant-related funding under Biden’s proposal, a small amount compared to the projected amount of state spending on shelter.