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The Governor declared a state of emergency last month due to rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving in Massachusetts, requiring the state's shelter system to expand in an unsustainable manner. Currently, there are more than 6,200 families with children and pregnant women in emergency shelter, many of whom are migrants. Governor Healey also recently activated up to 250 members of the National Guard to provide services at emergency shelter hotels.
In her letter, Governor Healey requested regulatory changes that would allow migrants to quickly and immediately apply for work authorization when the law allows it, rather than forcing them to wait for long and bureaucratic processing procedures that could take months. She also urged DHS to dramatically accelerate its digitization of the immigration process and build better connectivity between the information collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, such as improved access to online forms with direct language translations and user-friendly guides, more efficient creation of work authorization cards, and more streamlined application procedures that would help speed up the process.
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The Governor also reiterated her request for additional federal funding to support shelter and human services, which should be distributed equitably among states based on the pressure facing their systems and finances. Lieutenant Governor Driscoll commented on this situation saying "We have the opportunity to not only address both of these issues, but also to grow our economy and strengthen our communities in the long run."
Governor Healey expressed her gratitude towards Secretary Mayorkas for meeting with them at the Massachusetts State House two weeks ago in order discuss these goals further. She is hopeful that these requests will be taken into serious consideration by the federal government so that they can address this emergency effectively while helping families support themselves as well as addressing workforce shortages across all industries in Massachusetts.
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