Local Representatives Send Letter to Healey on Immigration Emergency

HYANNIS – As the state mulls plans to use the Yarmouth Resort to house up to 100 migrant families, and with sites already operating in Eastham and Joint Base Cape Cod, local legislators have penned a letter to Governor Maura Healey on her emergency declaration and immigration plans.

Officials pumped the brakes on the Yarmouth location after it was discovered that it did not have a valid certificate of occupancy, but they added they are still evaluating the options.

Among the signees are State Representative for the 5th Barnstable District Steven Xiarhos and 2nd Plymouth District State Rep. Susan Williams Gifford.

The following is the full letter from the representatives:

Governor Healey & Secretary Augustus:

We write to you today to express our deep concern regarding the August 8, 2023 State of Emergency declaration “due to the rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving in Massachusetts in need of shelter and services and a severe lack of shelter availability in the state.”

The housing crisis in Massachusetts has been on going for many years. This crisis has continued to get worse as we continue to move forward. Simply enough, there is not enough affordable housing in Massachusetts to house everyone that is in need. Our offices everyday get calls from concerned constituents who do not know where to go. Some have been on lists for years, and just must play the wait and see game.

The current rise of undocumented immigrants coming to Massachusetts has caused an even greater strain on the housing system here in the Commonwealth. We have been hearing from constituents, who are both on the waitlists for housing and those who are not, that they have deep concerns that those that have been taxpayers to the Commonwealth are not the priority of the government. At what point do we say we have to prioritize the legal residents that live in the Commonwealth over everyone else?

We understand that Massachusetts has the “right to shelter” law, however the intention of that law was to protect Massachusetts citizens who were facing challenges finding a place to shelter. This law was not intended to include everyone from around the world that comes to Massachusetts. It is not economically feasible to continue down this path. We should be asking the Federal government to help us house our citizens! The immigration crisis is a problem that needs to be addressed by those elected in Washington, D.C. Our state should not be having to prioritize undocumented immigrants over our own citizens.

We should not be asking our citizens to consider taking people into their homes. Massachusetts families are struggling to provide for their own families. This is the government’s problem, not the citizens of Massachusetts. We should not be asking our citizens to make up for the government’s shortfalls. We are utterly unprepared as a state to address the housing crisis with our own citizens let alone welcome undocumented immigrants into the State.

We, as legislators, are elected to serve our districts and our constituents. We must answer directly to them. Many of them have questions, that we do not know the answer to.

We ask the Administration:

• What the plan is for the thousands of Massachusetts citizens who have been waiting for housing in Massachusetts for months, even years?
• How will the local police departments address identities and background checks if an arrest is made?
• What is the Administration’s plan for the influx that could be seen at local hospitals and emergency rooms?
• How will these undocumented immigrants be documented with the municipalities?
• Will there be a requirement for them to find employment?
• Will there be a requirement that they must begin the process to become a United States citizen?
• Will municipalities get advanced notice of when the undocumented immigrants will be arriving?
• Will municipalities get notice as to where these undocumented immigrants are staying within the town?
• What is the plan for municipalities who do not have the resources to provide translation services?
• Will municipalities receive a total number of people that will be arriving?
• As the Family and Mobility Act is in effect, what plans does the Administration have to protect the integrity of elections and ensure that those that obtain licenses are not also registering to vote?
• How will the undocumented immigrants get around these municipalities that do not have broad access to public transportation?
• Why was this state of emergency not called earlier to assist Massachusetts citizens looking to obtain safe shelter?
• Will these locations also be available to Massachusetts residents who are on waiting lists for housing?
• How long will hotels be utilized?
• Is the state covering the full cost? What is the financial impact to the state? How many taxpayer dollars are going to this?
• How long will the National Guard be deployed? Will the National Guard be deployed to municipalities to assist?
• Will these undocumented immigrants have access to MassHealth and be required to have health insurance?

As the Commonwealth accepts these undocumented immigrants, we as a state will be required to provide education to all the children that are coming. We cannot allow the education of our students to suffer because the Commonwealth is unprepared to address the increase that school districts may face. We now ask the question that is being asked to each of us by our local town managers and select boards.

We ask the Administration the following questions in regard to our education system:

• Does the Administration have a plan to address the influx of students that school districts will face?
• Does the Administration have a plan to help school districts that have budget shortfalls due to this influx?
• Will these undocumented immigrants have to show proof of vaccination before attending schools?
• Will these undocumented immigrants have to provide medical records before attending schools?
• How will the Administration help the already strained education system meet the need for ESL educators in school districts?

We are compassionate people but we have Massachusetts residents who are seniors, veterans, single moms, single dads and families on waiting list for housing service for longer than a year. We have constituents we have been trying to be placed since last summer. We have people concerned how they will put food on the table next week with the rising inflation. We have people, our citizens, who can’t get health coverage and prescription drugs covered. We have too many other issues we need to address before we start bringing in these undocumented immigrants. We have citizens of our Commonwealth hurting!

We believe that these are reasonable questions to ask when the people of Massachusetts have no choice in what action the government is taking. We ask for greater transparency around this entire issue. We as legislators cannot be kept in the dark when this is affecting our constituents and our districts! We look forward to hearing your plans to address these concerns.

Michael J. Soter
State Representative
8th Worcester District
Bradley H. Jones, Jr.
State Representative – Minority Leader
20th Middlesex District
Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr.
State Representative
5th Worcester District
Marcus S. Vaughn
State Representative
9th Norfolk District
Marc T. Lombardo
State Representative
22nd Middlesex District
Peter J. Durant
State Representative
6th Worcester District
Steven George Xiarhos
State Representative
5th Barnstable District
David K. Muradian
State Representative
9th Worcester District
David F. DeCoste
State Representative
5th Plymouth District
Joseph D. McKenna
State Representative
18th Worcester District
Paul K. Frost
State Representative
7th Worcester District
Susan Williams Gifford
State Representative
2nd Plymouth District
Steven S. Howitt
State Representative
4th Bristol District
Ryan C. Fattman
State Senator
Worcester & Hampden District

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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