Poll Shows Massachusetts Voters Oppose Using Tax Dollars to House Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | February 2024
A recent poll commissioned by the Fiscal Alliance Foundation revealed that more than half of Massachusetts voters oppose the state’s “right-to-shelter” law for newly arrived illegal aliens. The poll, conducted between February 3 and February 6, comes as Massachusetts continues to grapple with an influx of migrants and only weeks before the state’s March 5 presidential primary.
The poll queried 788 Massachusetts registered voters and found that 53 percent did not want their state government spending taxpayer dollars on emergency housing for migrants. While only 30 percent of Democrats objected to spending tax revenue on housing for illegal aliens, 90 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Independents opposed it.
Additionally, 79 percent of the poll’s respondents, (including 68 percent of Democrats, 96 percent of Republicans, and 82 percent of Independents) did not approve of Democrat Governor Maura Healey’s proposal to house illegal aliens in private homes. In July, the influx of migrants, coupled with the state’s housing shortage, prompted Governor Healey to ask residents to temporarily house migrants in order to address the crisis.
“What is clear from this poll, the migrant crisis is at the forefront of voters’ minds and the solutions to date are not satisfactory,” Fiscal Alliance Foundation’s spokesman Paul Craney remarked. “While the governor continues to spend valuable taxpayer money on the right-to-shelter benefits for newly arrived migrants, a majority of the voters disagree with this decision.”
Last August, Governor Healey declared a state of emergency due to the number of illegal aliens arriving in Massachusetts and the lack of shelter available in the state. At that time, she called on the Biden administration to increase funding to the states to provide such services.
Despite Governor Healey’s request for federal funds, the Biden administration only provided about $2 million in FEMA funds to Massachusetts for emergency shelter and other migrant needs. It is estimated that the Bay State will spend at least $1 billion to support emergency shelter for homeless families and migrants through the end of the current fiscal year and another $1 billion over the next one.
Massachusetts is one of just two states in the nation with a “right-to-shelter” law. It became a “right-to-shelter” state when then-Governor Michael Dukakis, in his 1983 inaugural address, called for legislation that would guarantee housing for every homeless family in the state. Ten months later, Dukakis signed the “right-to-shelter” law currently at issue. Therefore, as a “right-to-shelter state”, Massachusetts is required by law to provide eligible families with shelter through its emergency assistance program, regardless of immigration status. In addition to ensuring housing to illegal aliens, the state also covers other services, including education, food assistance, and medical care for them.
Currently, Massachusetts’ shelter system is at maximum capacity, with more than 7,500 families enrolled a wait list for more. Even though the housing shortage has only been exacerbated by the influx of illegal aliens, it has not stopped legislators from attempting to enact policies that would act as a beacon for more illegal aliens to come to Massachusetts. In January, the Joint Committee on Public Safety held a hearing on the Safe Communities Act, which would codify a 2017 Massachusetts supreme judicial court decision which held that state and local law enforcement could not honor federal immigration detainers. Given the recent Fiscal Alliance Foundation poll results, codifying Massachusetts as a sanctuary state would appear not only reckless, but also not well supported.