Watch CBS News

Boston's Logan Airport "not an appropriate place" for migrants to stay, Massport says

Boston's Logan Airport "not an appropriate place" for migrants to stay, Massport says
Boston's Logan Airport "not an appropriate place" for migrants to stay, Massport says 02:35

BOSTON - Under an escalator at Logan Airport, immigrant children could be seen huddled Friday, with their father in a seat nearby.

"We have to emphasize that Logan is not an appropriate place to house people," said Massport's Interim CEO Ed Freni. 

He said families have been taking refuge in the airport for the last three months, well before the state's emergency shelter system hit its limit last week. 

"They're paying passengers. They come in off airplanes from all different regions. We've been seeing about 20-25 a day."

Logan is often the first stop for migrants from Haiti and Latin American countries stepping into the emergency shelter crisis in Massachusetts. The Legislature this week failed to agree on a spending bill that would've pumped $250 million into the state's shelter system.

Governor Maura Healey said other governments sometimes pay for the tickets. 

"In some instances, they've been bought by governments or local governments, others by non-profits or churches ," she said. 

Police routinely take the immigrants to state-run welcome centers, where the families end up on a waiting list, since shelters are full.

"Massachusetts right now in terms of a destination, winter is coming. It's going to get cold, and we simply can't promise you a bed," said Governor Healey.

With nowhere else to go, many new arrivals check in at Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI) locations across the state. Workers at the Mattapan site spent Friday setting up a shipment of 50 cots that had just arrived, in case people would need to stay there.

"Traveling for months, sometimes for years until they get here, and finally they are here, we are in winter months, and we are turning our back on them," said IFSI founder Dr. Geralde Gabeau. "To me, this is not acceptable."

Governor Maura Healey has been focused on job placement, in hopes of enabling immigrants to pay for their own housing, which would free-up shelter space. She said this week, the state processed a thousand new work authorizations.

Massachusetts emergency shelters at capacity

The system recently hit a cap put in place by Gov. Maura Healey of 7,500 homeless and migrant families, forcing new arrivals onto a waitlist. Lawmakers have considered setting up one or more "overflow" shelter sites for families that get waitlisted. 

House Speaker Ron Mariano said last week that one option being weighed is the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. He said it remains to be seen if Hynes would be sufficient or if "multiple" locations would be needed across the state.

A new work authorization clinic at Camp Curtis Guild in Reading began serving migrants at Monday and is expected to help 250 to 300 shelter residents per day. Healey says helping migrants find work quickly will ease the burden on the shelter system. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.