Migrants coming to Massachusetts are facing harsh realities, as are the communities across the state that are greeting them.
"What we are seeing is the concurrent and overlapping crisis surrounding housing unavailability, housing scarcity, with the migrant crisis," Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston, said on Basic Black.
We are experiencing an acute need for housing not just for U.S. citizens and longtime residents in the Boston area but also for new residents who are arriving. But it's not just a drain, he says — it's also an opportunity.
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Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit after Massachusetts announced that the state's emergency shelter system was at capacity and new applicants seeking shelter would need to go on a waiting list. Massachusetts' right-to-shelter law guarantees shelter to families in desperate need.
"If you see them first as a people who are seeking a future, who are fleeing violence ... if you see them as assets, you will do whatever you can to welcome them and give them the status that they need," said Dr. Geralde Gabeau, founder and executive director of the Immigrant Families Services Institute. "Those are the people that we need ... all sectors are suffering, we don't have enough nurses, we don't have enough drivers."
"There is a shortage of immigration attorneys and many families don't know how to navigate this process," said Stephanie Rosario Rodriguez, senior director of programs at MIRA Coalition. "They're trying to work with our pre-existing system but it's so convoluted they don't know where to begin or how to take the next step."
Donna Mitria, triage team manager at La Colaborativa in Chelsea, says that her organization is relying on a pre-existing network of organizations who have been doing this work for years.
"That's been a huge challenge for us on the ground, trying to find and centralize these warming shelters," Mitria said. "The Malden warming shelter has been a huge resource for us ... a lot of the times families make the conscious choice not to go to shelters in Boston because they don't have the community and want to stay close to things that they know."
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