BOSTON (WWLP) – The migrant crisis continues, and now a local state senator has been called on to serve.

National Guard member and State Senator John Velis of Westfield has been on the front lines of the migrant crisis at the State House, and now he has been activated to assist with incoming migrants on the ground.

The Massachusetts National Guard was activated in early October by Governor Maura Healey, and Velis was among the 250 members that were deployed. Senator Velis was first elected to office in 2020 after joining the United States Army in 2010. He has been deployed to Afghanistan twice and also to the border between South and North Korea.

In just April of this year, he transitioned from the U.S. Army Reserves to the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

According to the National Guard, Velis is serving as the general legal advisor to leadership for the Massachusetts National Guard’s Taskforce assigned to the ongoing housing crisis response.

His office shared in a statement, “As a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, Senator Velis was activated last week as part of their mission to support the Commonwealth’s Emergency Assistance Shelter System. After the Senator’s Guard duty shifts, he receives updates from our office and is staying abreast of all issues before the Senate and in his district.”

When Governor Healey declared a state of emergency in August, there were nearly 5,600 families in shelter. As of Wednesday, over 6,900 families are currently in emergency shelters. Currently, nearly 2,000 families are staying in hotels or motels across the state which are being supported by providers, and there are 1,080 families being supported by the National Guard.

Senator Velis’ office also said that during the Senator’s activation, his office remains fully operational and is available to their constituents for help.

Local News

Ellen Fleming is a reporter at the Boston State House who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Ellen on X @EllenFlem and view her bio to see more of her work.