Expected stay for migrants at Quality Inn still unknown

Sep 26, 2023

MIDDLEBORO – According to Middleboro Town Manager James McGrail, the town’s Quality Inn has been designated as an emergency shelter by the state to house migrant families and children. 

McGrail said he was notified about the emergency shelter on Friday, Sept. 22.

According to Select Board Chair Mark Germain, the state reserved 30 rooms at Quality Inn. Germain said that there are currently 24 people from Haiti occupying the state-reserved rooms. Out of the 24 people, Germain said that nine of them are children. 

According to McGrail, it is unknown how long these families are expected to be housed at the inn. 

“The long term plan is to get them jobs and to get them into housing,” said McGrail.

Personnel at Quality Inn were unable to answer questions regarding the matter due to the manager being unavailable until Friday, Sept. 29.

According to McGrail, the decision to designate the Quality Inn as a Temporary Emergency Shelter “was made at the state level as the Commonwealth is responsible for family placements and the coordination of services, including meals.”

McGrail said that Middleboro’s Quality Inn is not typically used for emergency assistance but more common locations did not have vacancies. 

Towns throughout southeastern Massachusetts have had lodging facilities designated by the state as Temporary Emergency Shelters since Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency due to rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Over 6,300 migrant families are in emergency housing statewide — double the amount of last year, according to Healey. Although this crisis is nationwide, Massachusetts is the only state to have a “right to shelter” law for qualifying families with children.

Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) along with 65 members of the Massachusetts legislature are sending a bipartisan letter to congress urging for federal legal immigration reform, Pacheco announced at a press conference Thursday, Sept. 21.

Pacheco said the workforce limitations for migrants are affecting the U.S. economy and the existing immigration policy does not have an established system capable of “adequately” authorizing new workers and preventing entry of unauthorized individuals.

During a Select Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 25, the board discussed the issue with McGrail.

Select Board Chair Mark Germain asked if the state is “thinking about helping out the homeless and veterans we have in town or just the migrant families?” 

McGrail replied that the communication he received from the state strictly regarded migrant families. 

Select Board Vice Chair Brian Giovanoni stressed the importance of providing stability for these families. 

“My concern is we need to get these children into school as fast as possible,” he said. “These folks deserve to be treated with respect… it’s horrible that they are being bounced around.”

Superintendent Carolyn Lyons said that the district is currently “in the process of posting for additional staff to assist with the increased caseload.”

“The Commonwealth is funding the influx of new students on a per pupil basis, so our efforts are focused on the logistics of registering, placing, and providing services to our new arrivals” said Lyons in a letter to the Middleboro school community.

Select Board member Thomas White echoed Giovanoni’s sentiment. 

“These people need our help, they are just human beings and I ask anybody that is listening to respect them as human beings and understand that they are only trying to survive,” he said.

McGrail said that he visited the Middleboro Quality Inn with Middleboro Fire Chief Owen Thompson and Health Officer Kayla Smith on Sunday, Sept. 24.

“We are standing by to assist in whatever way is necessary and appropriate, however, anyone with specific questions related to this situation is asked to contact the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance as we are still awaiting guidance regarding what municipal services and support may be needed,” said McGrail.

According to McGrail, the National Guard will be on site every day beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 27.