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Boston Democrat urging residents to house migrants as influx overwhelms the city

Podcast host Grace Curley joined ‘Fox & Friends First’ to discuss why one Democrat in Boston is turning to residents to mitigate the migrant surge and her take on border agents arresting 269 Chinese migrants in one day. 

Massachusetts residents – a woman and a husband and wife – recently spoke on camera with local outlets about their experiences welcoming migrant families into their homes in the Boston suburb of Brookline, encouraging others to join in opening their doors, part of what one Democratic official deemed should be a “shared responsibility.” 

A migrant couple from Haiti spoke exclusively to WBTS-CD about their experience sleeping on the floor of Boston Logal International Airport and then at a children’s hospital with their two-year-old daughter who grew sick during their journey to the United States. 

But that was until Wildande Joseph, and her husband, whose name the outlet did not air, were welcomed into the apartment of Lisa Hillenbrand. 

Joseph said her daughter is much happier now and wakes up every morning saying, “Hi Lisa!” 


Boston mayor and Massachusetts governor tour migrant shelter

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey pause to look at the Army cots set up on the gym floor at the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex on Jan. 31, 2024. The facility will house over 300 migrants.  (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“It’s a delight, and it’s really fun having them. What I realized is there’s so much prejudice against refugees, mostly because people don’t know them,” Hillenbrand said, telling the outlet she feels like she has her own personal chef because Joseph loves cooking and dreams of opening a restaurant.

“They are hardworking, they want to learn, they want to be successful, and I feel great helping. And I get to understand the refugee crisis from the inside,” Hillenbrand, encouraging others to do as she did and volunteer during Brookline Town Hall meetings to take in more migrants themselves in coming weeks.

This comes as Boston City Councilwoman Julia Mejia, a Democrat, recently urged residents in Brookline and other Boston suburbs to do the same. 

“Dedham, Wellesley, Brookline – cities and towns that have so much more resources than the city of Boston. People who actually have more financial support,” Mejia told WBTS. “We need to do everything in our power to make sure that we are setting them up for success, or whatever success looks like. I think everybody should be opening their doors because this is a shared responsibility.” 

The interview, aired Monday, garnered mixed reactions on social media, as some users noted how Elon Musk went after Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey last month over her handling of the migrant crisis. 

“They’ve run out of hotel rooms, are kicking kids out of school for illegal housing and now they want your homes too,” Musk wrote in a post on X in January, sharing an old news story about Healey first asking residents in August 2023 if they would be willing to help house migrants in their private homes. 

Brookline street

A Green Line light rail passes through Coolidge Corner in Brookline, Mass. Some Brookline residents have taken migrant families into their homes. (Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Haitian couple has their work permits and have been taking English classes, WBTS-CD reported. Joseph’s husband told the outlet that he considers Hillenbrand his daughter’s new grandmother. In an interview from Hillenbrand’s couch, he described in Spanish wanting to save money for their future. 

The migrant couple and the reporter attempted to communicate in Spanish, which is spoken in Haiti, though the primary languages in the Caribbean country are Haitian Creole and French. 

Their interview comes after Colin and Jessica Stokes, also Brookline residents, shared with another outlet, WBZ, last week their experience taking another migrant family into their home as state shelters handling the influx of illegal immigrants into Boston and the state have reached capacity. 

Migrants sleep at Boston airport

Migrants sleep at Logan Airport’s Terminal E overnight on Jan. 26, 2024.  (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“The family is lovely. They are so appreciative. It has been wonderful,” Jessica Stokes told WBZ, “It is incredible to observe on the frontlines how challenging it is.… Just the dysfunction is really disheartening, and I know that really well-intentioned people are working as hard as they can. It’s a state of emergency, but it is distressing to see the volume.” 


When she called the state saying that she and her husband were willing to take in migrants, Stokes said it took less than an hour for the migrants to be dropped off at their door. She and her husband are encouraging other residents to take part in the pilot program.  

A woman walks her dog in Brookline

A woman walks her dog down a Brookline, Mass., street. Residents have offered to take migrants into their homes as the state shelter system is over capacity.  (Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“I’ve got to get sheets on the bed, how many people are coming?” she told the outlet, seated on a couch next to her husband. “Where are they from? What ages? We really knew nothing.” 

“The need is so clearly overwhelming,” Colin Stokes said. “It boggles the mind that there are so many hundreds of those stories and those people who are in such a stressful, traumatic transition.” 

Boston officials at possible new migrant site

Boston city officials from left, Councilor Ed Flynn, Councilwoman Erin Murphy and State Senator Nick Collins discuss an office building in the Fort Point neighborhood under consideration to serve as the city’s next migrant shelter.  (Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Stokes welcomed a family of four, who did not want to go on camera, into their home who had been sleeping on the floor at Logan Airport after making the journey from Chile to Texas and then Massachusetts. The two migrant children are waiting to be enrolled in school, but their parents were told their work authorization could take months to process, WBZ reported.

Healey, who declared a state of emergency last summer due to the migrant crisis, said her administration has helped around 3,000 migrants get work authorizations. 

Her office is planning to roll out a new pilot program drawing $8 million from the state budget to help 400 migrant families find longer-term housing outside the state shelter system. Resettlement agencies are looking for apartments in eastern Massachusetts for the program, according to WBTS-CD, and will be tasked with helping migrants navigate a decade-old state-run program called HomeBASE, intended to provide move-in costs like the first and last months’ rent and security deposits for qualified families. 


The state’s emergency shelter in Roxbury, Mass., meanwhile, reached capacity in just a week. An office building in Boston’s Seaport is eyed as a possible next site to house migrants, but Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn expressed concern about the lack of running water and showers there, WBZ reported.

Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace. 

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