IMMIGRATION IS suddenly showing up on the radar screens of Massachusetts residents.
The MassINC Polling Group often begins its polls with a broad-based question asking respondents what they think is the most important issue facing Massachusetts right now. Typically, the top three answers are the economy/jobs, the cost of living, and housing. The order of the top three may change, and the percentage of respondents selecting one of those three categories may change, but those three have always been the top three for some time.
Immigration is rarely raised. It came in 15th at 2 percent in June 2022. It came in 10th out of 10 at 2 percent in another poll in late January/early February.
In an August poll that was released on Wednesday, however, immigration moved into the fourth spot at 10 percent, trailing behind the economy/jobs at 12 percent, the cost of living at 21 percent, and housing at 23 percent. Immigration came in ahead of such issues as public safety, taxes, climate change, homelessness, and transportation.
Rich Parr, the senior research director at the MassINC Polling Group, said the latest poll results suggest immigration has moved to front of mind for some Massachusetts residents. He offered one caveat – that the most recent poll targeted 1,000 residents living in the MBTA’s service area, which would primarily be eastern Massachusetts, while the other polls were statewide.
The rising profile of immigration in Massachusetts is most likely related to the ongoing debate about the shelter crisis, with an influx of migrants stretching the state’s right-to-shelter law to the breaking point. More than 6,300 families are currently living in the state’s shelter system at a cost that exceeds $45 million a month.
Gov. Maura Healey is pleading with President Biden’s administration to tweak existing immigration laws to get migrants into jobs as quickly as possible. So far, Biden hasn’t acted.
Parr said 96 poll respondents ranked immigration as the No. 1 issue facing the state in the latest poll, which focused on the MBTA and transportation issues. Most of the poll respondents didn’t elaborate in their answers, but a handful did.
“We’re being overwhelmed with the outlay needed to cover benefits/services to illegal aliens who are being dropped here, and it’s wreaking havoc with real estate taxes and apartment rents,” said one.
“Illegals taking homes Americans should get first,” said another.
The poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group from August 14-20 and sponsored by the Barr Foundation. The poll has a “credibility interval” of plus or minus 3.3 percent. The MassINC Polling Group is part-owned by MassINC, the parent organization of CommonWealth. The topline for the poll is here and crosstabs are here.