Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka spoke on the state’s migrant crisis in an interview that aired a NBC aired Sunday, echoing calls for more federal aid and action.
“These are families,” Spilka said on NBC’s @Issue. “These are mothers with children. I mean, over half of the migrants are children. And we need to help, but Massachusetts needs help.”
Over the last few months, Massachusetts has seen a rise in the number of migrants arriving to the state and living in emergency shelters. Over 6,500 families — including homeless families and migrants — are living in emergency shelters in the state, as of late September.
But, Spilka said when asked in there’s a limit on what the state can do, federal aid would “certainly help.”
The senate president echoed a call for more federal resources and money to mitigate the crisis, “way overdue” immigration reform, and reform to the Federal Work Permit System to allow migrants to work.
Asked if she would consider repealing the state’s “right to shelter” law — which some lawmakers argue draw migrants to the state — she said the law is “not the factor.”
“I am not certain if that’s what is pulling migrants coming, because other states that don’t have that are experiencing the exact same influx of migrants,” said Spilka. “The factor, I think, more is what’s happening globally. And people coming to the United States and ending up in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and many other states across across our country.”
The Legislature will continue pushing the congressional delegation and working with the Healey administration on the issue, she added.
BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper also spoke to the implication of the migrant crisis on local school on the NBC segment Sunday.
The district, Skipper said, has enrolled 1,300 newly arrived immigrants since July 1. Many are older students arriving unaccompanied, she added.
“For me as a superintendent, this is a critical issue because it’s not only about making sure that our recently arrived immigrants are getting access to language instruction and development, but it’s also the wraparound that our families are needing that are coming,” Skipper said, citing homelessness and food security assistance.
Making sure these and other students are “really cared for in our district and provided a top notch education” will be a big consideration over the next several years, Skipper said.