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Migrant crime allegations have Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey facing surge of political outrage

Keller @ Large: Gov. Healey turning into target for some Republicans over migrant crisis
Keller @ Large: Gov. Healey turning into target for some Republicans over migrant crisis 02:52

BOSTON - As Massachusetts struggles to deal with a surge of homeless migrants, Governor Maura Healey finds herself dealing with another surge -- of political outrage over reports of migrant crime.

Healey blames Congress  

Despite reports to the contrary the governor says migrant work permits are still being issued as the state scrambles to ease a crisis she blames on congressional failure to act on a bipartisan bill that would have provided resources to vet the migrants and funding to shelter them. 

"Donald Trump said no deal, no deal before the election, and they all pulled back, the Republicans pulled back," she said in an exclusive interview with WBZ-TV. "That's playing politics and we and other states continue to pay the price."

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey talks to WBZ-TV's Jon Keller, March 20, 2024. CBS Boston

Migrant rape accusation

And in the wake of the alleged rape of a disabled 15-year-old girl in a Rockland hotel by a Haitian migrant, political posturing on the issue is intensifying.

"It's a horrible situation, a horrible allegation and my thoughts are with the victim," said Healey in her initial comments on the incident. But Healey also sought to downplay the migrant aspect of the story. "We have security and systems in place, we have vetting in place. It is unfortunate that, from time to time, things will happen, and as I say, anywhere, not just in shelters but anywhere."

But in this climate, any allegation of migrant violence is fodder for political outrage. Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Homeland Security demanding details of the suspect's background. And New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte attacked a Healey-backed Democratic rival as someone who would "bring this crisis to New Hampshire," tweeting: "Maura Healey should be ashamed of herself."

Responds Healey: "What happened to this young victim, this 15-year-old girl, is exactly why the federal government needs to act, Congress needs to act, people need to do their job and fix this."

What do voters say?

Polls show they have disapproved of President Joe Biden's handling of immigration issues by about a two-to-one margin for months now, with little apparent impact of recent events. But by about the same margin, respondents to a recent Wall Street Journal poll expressed support for that bipartisan reform package abandoned by House Republicans, with roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in favor.

That's why Democrats are flogging the GOP retreat on the issue while Republicans emphasize immigrant crime. And the beat goes on with no solutions.

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