OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
5:05 PM – Thursday, September 14, 2023
On Wednesday, Massachusetts National Guard was officially deployed as “rapid response teams” to emergency shelters across the state that are housing displaced and migrant families as part of an up to six-month call-up. This comes as pressure rises for United States President Joe Biden to address the urgent crisis in the state.
Currently, over 6,000 migrant families are in emergency shelters across Massachusetts. Massachusetts is a right to shelter state, and must grant emergency housing to families in need.
“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,” Governor Maura Healy (D-Mass.) announced in a statement.
The move to deploy 250 service members and serve more than 40 shelters came after Healey confirmed a state of emergency several weeks ago due to the burden on the shelter system.
A Healey spokesperson announced that the call-up is expected to be over in six months, “however this is a rapidly evolving situation that will continue to be assessed.”
According to the Healey spokesperson, uniformed troops will assist with logistical and administrative duties, but the exact shelters that they are supporting will be kept a secret out of a concern for privacy.
As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear how many troops would mobilize at the start of the call-up. Soldiers and airmen are being pulled from all throughout the state and Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Donnelly is the mission commander, according to a Massachusetts National Guard spokesperson.
“The Massachusetts National Guard’s role in the inter-agency response to support ongoing emergency shelter operations will expand to leverage our diverse and adaptable range of capabilities,” said Donnelly, commander of “Task Force Shelter.” “The Guard is committed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the residents of Massachusetts, and our emergency and domestic operation experience will add a wide array of options to assist those in need.”
National Guard Members were transported on Wednesday to 40 hotels and motels that do not have service providers. The Governor of Massachusetts stated that they will coordinate access to meals, medical care and transportation.
“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,” Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll said Tuesday.
According to Boston 25 News, Driscoll explained to the Local Government Advisory Commission that between 20 and 35 families seek shelter each day in Massachusetts, occasionally reaching up to 55 families. He said that this “creates an immediate need to try and find spaces.”
“All of our typical emergency shelter sites were filled a month ago,” Driscoll told Boston 25 News. “That means we’re filling in trying to find locations.”
“The administration does not seem to be utilizing a lot of the structures that we have in place for emergencies and crisis situations, at least on a regular basis, in a regular cadence, that would be done and has been done in previous events,” Driscoll added.
Due to the immigration crisis, the Governor of Massachusetts has leaned on the president for months to take more action to help the crisis. Healey first announced a state of emergency in August, calling for more funding and support from the federal government.
“Many of these families are migrants to Massachusetts, drawn here because we are and proudly have been a beacon to those in need,” Healey wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Following Massachusetts’ need for support on its migrant crisis, Boston received a $1.9 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist migrants with shelter and transportation.
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