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Massachusetts migrant crisis team in Texas to tell authorities "our shelters are full"

Will migrants be given priority to Massachusetts public housing?
Will migrants be given priority to Massachusetts public housing? 06:01

BOSTON - Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has sent some of her administration to the U.S. southern border to warn authorities the state's emergency shelter system for migrant families is full.

Texas border visits

The state's shelter crisis director, Emergency Assistance Director General Scott Rice, is leading the team from Massachusetts on visits to San Antonio, McAllen, Hidalgo and Brownsville, Texas. According to Healey's office, those communities are the most common points of entry for families that later arrive in Massachusetts.

"This trip is an important opportunity to meet with families arriving in the U.S. and the organizations that work with them at the border to make sure they have accurate information about the lack of shelter space in Massachusetts," Rice said in a statement Tuesday.

"It is essential that we get the word out that our shelters are full so that families can plan accordingly to make sure they have a safe place to go."

The team from Massachusetts is meeting with authorities from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, non-governmental organizations and families at the border sites.

Massachusetts emergency shelter capacity

The Massachusetts emergency shelter system reached its capacity of 7,500 families back in November. There are currently 7,379 families enrolled as of Tuesday, according to the state.

Migrants Logan Airport
Dozens of migrants sleeping on the floor of Terminal E at Logan Airport CBS Boston

Last fall, 30-to-40 families were looking for emergency shelter every day in Massachusetts, according to the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. As of last month, that was down to 22 families a day.

Back in April, Massachusetts passed a new law setting a time limit of nine months for families to stay in the shelter system.

Massachusetts is currently the only state in the nation with a "right to shelter" law. It was enacted back in 1983. The state has been looking at several different options for shelters, including a closed prison in Norfolk.

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