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Baker says ‘screwed-up’ US immigration system needs fixing, after migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard

Governor Charlie Baker spoke about the "broken" US immigration system during a press conference about Orange Line renovations at the Tufts Medical Center MBTA station Sunday.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Governor Charlie Baker had a strong message for Washington policymakers after planeloads of migrants were sent unexpectedly to Martha’s Vineyard last week: The United States has a broken immigration system in dire need of reform.

“Obviously, sending people all over the country, many of whom have no idea why they’re being sent, where they’re going, is no solution to the very screwed up immigration system we have in the US,” Baker said Sunday at a press conference related to the MBTA. “We have a lot of ways we can help people who are here or who come here. But what we really need, more than anything, is for the folks in Washington to get their act together.”

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Baker said he has been urging Republicans and Democrats in the nation’s capital to work together to pass meaningful immigration reform for “many, many, many years.”

“It’s not a secret to anyone that our immigration system is broken, and it’s not a secret that the border is also broken because our immigration system is broken. And states can’t fix it, OK?” Baker said when asked if he had anything to say to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who chartered the planes from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. “So any conversation with any governor doesn’t really get me anywhere.”

Baker said Massachusetts welcomes plenty of migrants with various immigration statuses every day, and has a network of nonprofits, local and state agencies, as well as legal organizations that is ready to help people as needed. That community of players has already been working to support refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Haiti, he said.

“This is part of the work that we do,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud of the way people of Martha’s Vineyard responded to this, and we will do what we need to do to help these folks.”

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Still, Baker, a Republican not running for re-election, said the bigger issue is that the United States has an immigration system that is “busted and it needs to be fixed.”

“What really needs to happen here is Washington needs to do its job,” Baker said. “And its job is to come up with an immigration system policy that is enforceable, that works, and that people understand, because we certainly don’t have that now. And [the Martha’s Vinyard incident] is just another example of that.”


Sahar Fatima can be reached at sahar.fatima@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @sahar_fatima.