Massachusetts Activates National Guard Amidst Migrant Shelter Overload

Maura Healey Massachusetts EMA | Source:

Massachusetts has activated 250 National Guard members to serve as “rapid response teams” in light of the escalating migrant shelter crisis.

This move follows Governor Maura Healey’s earlier declaration of a state of emergency due to the overwhelming demand on the state’s shelter infrastructure.

Governor Healey commented on the situation, stating, “Massachusetts is in a state of emergency, and we need all hands-on deck to meet this moment and ensure families have access to safe shelter and basic services.” At present, the state is accommodating over 6,000 migrant families in emergency shelters. Being a right to shelter state, Massachusetts has a legal obligation to provide emergency housing to families in dire need.

To address the immediate requirements, National Guard members were dispatched to 40 lodging facilities that were previously without service providers. Their role is to ensure that these locations have access to essential services such as meals, medical attention, and transportation. As Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll clarified, “The plan that we have in place today with the deployment of the National Guard, which happened just last month, will put National Guard staff, soldiers, in locations as part of a response to our non-service providers, essentially creating rapid response teams in places that we don’t have the ground service contractors or case management services happening on a regular basis.”

Local reports suggest that the state sees a daily influx of between 20 and 35 families seeking shelter, a number that can sometimes rise to as many as 55 families. Lt. Gov. Driscoll shared with Boston 25 News that “All of our typical emergency shelter sites were filled a month ago.” To manage the increasing demand, the state had converted Joint Base Cape Cod into a temporary shelter in June. However, this facility reached its capacity within two days, underscoring the magnitude of the crisis.

The ongoing situation has prompted calls from state officials, including Governor Healey, for more decisive action from the federal government. In a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Healey pointed out, “Many of these families are migrants to Massachusetts, drawn here because we are and proudly have been a beacon to those in need.” She further highlighted challenges such as “a confusing tangle of immigration laws, an inability for migrants to obtain work authorization from the federal government, an increase in the number of people coming to Massachusetts, and the lack of an affordable housing supply in our state.” The governor’s appeal also included a call for Secretary Mayorkas to engage with Congress and consider executive actions to streamline the work permit process for migrants and provide additional financial support to the state.

In response to the state’s urgent appeals, Boston recently received a $1.9 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, earmarked for assisting migrants with shelter and transportation needs.

As of this report, Governor Healey’s office has yet to provide a comment on the matter.