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State House News Service: Top State Dems Issue New Plea For Immigration Reform

By Michael P. Norton at State House News Service

Entangled in a shelter crisis that is devouring state funds and shows no signs of abating, Beacon Hill's top three Democrats issued a rare joint plea Wednesday for Congress to pass an immigration reform bill that has bipartisan support, and opposition.

"We are therefore calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the proposed bipartisan national security bill and the U.S. House to take up a version of this bill as soon as possible," Gov. Maura Healey, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano said in a joint statement. 

The three Democrats mentioned their work to ensure that migrant families arriving in Massachusetts and seeking to settle here "have a safe place to sleep at night" and that cities and towns have resources to manage the influx of migrants.

"We have also been clear regarding the need for federal support, and we have for months been calling on Congress to pass immigration reform after decades of inaction that have led us directly to this point," they wrote.

While the bill they favor has drawn criticism from progressives as well, the three Democrats focused their ire on Republicans.

"It is shameful for Speaker [Mike] Johnson and House Republicans to declare this much-needed legislation 'dead on arrival' when families need help, states are straining under the cost of increased services, and the majority of Americans have expressed a desire to pass immigration reform," they wrote. "This agreement includes provisions that would bolster our state's ability to manage this situation. The proposal would make our border more secure, make funding available to reimburse states for some of the costs associated with supporting new arrivals, and expedite the process to obtain a work permit. Missing this opportunity for true bipartisan reform will continue to have negative ripple effects on states, and on the nation as a whole, for decades to come. It is time for Congress to act so that President Biden can sign a version of this bill into law.”

At a budget hearing Wednesday afternoon, Healey blamed the migrant crisis on federal inaction on immigration reform after Rep. Russell Holmes of Boston asked how he can respond to constituents who have long been clamoring for public housing improvements and are now seeing the state pour hundreds of millions of dollars into shelter arrangements for new arrivals.



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