Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker wound up sounding a lot more like a Republican this week than he normally does. On Monday, Baker publicly called on President Biden to send “urgent assistance” to his state to deal with the thousands of illegal migrants who have been sent or made their way to his state – particularly the city of Boston – from the southern border. He described a system that is normally used to house the local homeless population as being completely “overwhelmed” at this point. As many as 100 migrant families are currently being put up in hotels at the state’s expense but there are still many others demanding services. Like many blue states, Massachusetts has a “right-to-shelter law” that requires the government to provide shelter for those that request it. That makes Baker’s state a very tempting destination for the migrants, but the system is simply breaking down. (Boston Globe)

Governor Charlie Baker implored President Biden to provide “urgent assistance” to help resettle thousands of migrants who have streamed into Massachusetts in recent months, asking for increased housing and employment benefits, as well as funding for local nonprofits helping them.

The governor’s request, made Monday, comes at a time when the state’s homeless shelters are so overwhelmed by the influx of migrants — most entering the country at the US-Mexico border — that the Baker administration has resorted to placing approximately 100 families, many from Central America and Haiti, in hotels.

In an interview on GBH radio last week, Baker called the scale of immigration at the southern border a “crisis.” “The numbers are staggering,” he said, “and they are going to affect lots of states, including ours.”

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Baker decided to do this only eight days before the midterm elections. He repeatedly highlighted the border disaster during one radio interview, using the word “crisis” more than once. We’re left to speculate why he chose this particular moment to do this when migrants have been streaming into his state for more than a year now.

It’s possible that Baker calculated that he might get a more rapid response from Washington by bringing this up now when people are going to the polls for early voting. Of course, that might backfire on him if he angers Biden’s team and the Democrats in general by drawing even more attention to the Biden border crisis at this particular juncture.

We can’t write off the possibility that there were some political considerations in play, but partisan politicking hasn’t really been high on the agenda for Charlie Baker. He’s technically a Republican, it’s true, but he’s really a “Republican” in much the same way that Larry Hogan is. If you dropped him into any legitimate red state he would be indistinguishable from nearly any Democrat.

But why would Baker be playing those sorts of games now? He has already announced that he’s not running for another term and he’ll be leaving office at the end of this year. He has repeatedly told reporters that his future will be in the private sector and not in any sort of elected office. As far as political considerations go, Baker has folded his hand and he’s heading home. Why try to get in a final jab at Joe Biden and the Democrats on his way out the door?

While it pains me to say it about almost any politician these days, maybe Charlie Baker actually was just a good governor who cared about his state and wanted to do right by the people he represented. The migrant crisis is impacting large parts of the state and straining public resources. If other states are asking Washington for help, why not Massachusetts, right?

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