Getting Answers: Massachusetts leaders react to Title 42 ending

Title 42 is set to expire on Thursday. The policy, put in place in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19 gave the U.S. government power to expel migrants.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 10:13 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA. (WGGB/WSHM) - Title 42 is set to expire at midnight on Thursday. The policy, put in place in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19 gave the U.S. government power to swiftly expel migrants at the southern border.

For days now, the number of migrants waiting to cross has been surging.

Western Mass News spoke with State Senator John Velis who told us although Massachusetts is not a border state. We are already at the brink and currently, ill equipped to handle an influx of migrants here in the Commonwealth.

As the U.S prepares Thursday for the end of a pandemic era policy known as Title 42. Western Mass News is getting answers on how the influx of migrants at the U.S. southern border could affect the bay state.

We spoke with Massachusetts Senator John Velis who explained that essentially Title 42 allowed immigration authorities at the border to turn people away and not allow them to enter the country. This is an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. But as the public health emergency ends, so does Title 42.

“Border crossings are through the roof right now, in the terms of the number of people if we take away another restriction, what’s that going to do for the country, and I’ve got profound concerns about it,” said Senator Velis.

Despite these concerns, Elizabeth Sweet, the executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition told us they are very much welcoming the end of Title 42.

“MIRA has as long oppose the use of public health grounds as a reason to bar so many individuals from seeking to enter the us, particularly those who are coming those with legitimate asylum claims,” said Sweet.

However, Senator Velis told Western Mass News as a state we’ve already seen an uptick in new people settling here in the bay state.

“Folks are coming here or seeing it in numbers,” said Senator Velis. “It’s not just examples that you’re hearing about people being put on a bus. I mean folks are coming here anyway we’re seeing in the numbers we’re seeing in our schools we’re seeing it in the refugee programs. There’s an uptick if you believe in numbers, there’s no way to get around that there’s a serious uptick.”

He added that despite not being a border state, Massachusetts is at the brink and he’s calling a legislation to be passed at the federal level or else he said, taxpayers here in the Commonwealth may be left footing the bill.

“The reality is that America right now with this dysfunction we have, they say it’s a broken immigration system is an absolute understatement, and we will fill the impacts here in Massachusetts,” said Senator Velis. “What we’re going to have to do is allocate taxpayer money to increase that shelter capacity to increase all of these other things because it’s a humane thing to do. God does the federal government need to do something at this point in time states need help there is a failure of leadership.”

However Sweet told us, although they have seen an uptick, organizations like the MIRA Coalition have stepped up to the plate.

“There are so many resources of organizations that help new immigrants, including so many frontline providers that speak the language. Is that immigrants speak and have the cultural context to work with folks and our partners are always ready and welcome ready to welcome new immigrants who show up and help orient them and get them the information that they need to adapt to society here in the United States.”

Now, Sweet explained that MIRA is unsure what to expect in terms of numbers of migrants that might be coming here to the bay state following the end of Title 42.

She added that the reason a recent asylum ban that’s being implemented by the Biden Administration which she said will add barriers to individuals, seeking asylum protection here in the United States.