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Massachusetts to convert prison into shelter for illegal aliens
Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts to convert prison into shelter for illegal aliens

Facility will house illegal immigrants currently sleeping at Boston's Logan Airport

Massachusetts plans to convert a shuttered prison into an emergency "safety-net" site for illegal aliens, Democrat Governor Maura Healey's office confirmed to WCVB on Saturday.

The Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk was decommissioned in 2015 but will soon serve as temporary housing for approximately 140 local homeless and illegal immigrant families residing in Massachusetts, the only state with a right-to-shelter law.

The state's emergency shelter system reached capacity at 7,500 families in November.

'All we know is we have got people coming here.'

According to Emergency Assistance Director Scott Rice, the facility is still "in good condition," WCVB reported. Previously a minimum-security prison, the building reportedly features dorm-like rooms, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, a common room, and offices. Residents will have access to showers and bathrooms on each floor.

Rice told the news outlet that the state also plans to create a play area for children and classroom spaces for adults. The facility will host English for Speakers of Other Languages courses, job training, and housing search workshops, he added. Razor wire on the fence that lines the property will be removed, and the facility's gates will remain open.

The emergency shelter should be operational in June. Many of the families who will reside at the facility are currently sleeping at Boston's Logan International Airport, the governor's office stated.

The town of Norfolk told WBZ-TV that it only learned the prison would be converted into shelter space on Friday. On Saturday, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll briefed the town on the plan.

According to Norfolk officials, the prison will serve as a shelter for illegal immigrants for six to 12 months. They told WBZ they had "no role in this decision" and were "not consulted prior." Officials noted that the plan to turn the prison into a shelter has "many logistical challenges," which they plan to discuss with school leaders and police and fire chiefs.

Jim Lehan, a member of the Norfolk Select Board, stated, "We were taken back a little bit."

"When you have no knowledge of it, and you start getting phone calls about something you have no idea what they are calling about. That was a little tough," he added. "All we know is we have got people coming here and we have got issues that are related to it, and we are going to have to work our way through it."

Lehan noted that the town's elementary school does not have the space to support a large influx of additional children.

The town had meetings scheduled this week with the state to discuss the project's financial costs and who would foot the bill.

In late April, the governor's office announced that it would convert a National Guard armory in Lexington into a shelter for illegal immigrants despite the building's ongoing use.

Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance told Blaze News, "The responsibility for the migrant crisis Massachusetts is currently facing rests solely with executive and legislative leadership on Beacon Hill. First migrants maxed out our shelter system, then they maxed out hotels which were rented for them, now they've maxed out the overflow sites and are about to encroach upon our national defense installations. Governor Healey has proven time and time again that she is willing to do just about anything except address the root cause of the issue. Until Beacon Hill addresses the factors that are making us a magnet for people around the world, this problem is only going to continue to get worse."

According to a March press release from Healey's office, illegal immigrants residing in the state's overflow shelters must reapply monthly and provide evidence that they are attempting to become independent.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →