Governor Deval Patrick on Friday announced two potential sites for where the state can temporarily provide shelter for hundreds of unaccompanied children who have entered the United States illegally, reported The Boston Globe.
Both Bay State locations — one in Bourne and the other in Chicopee — are at military installments, and just one will be chosen, according to The Globe.
Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos held a press conference Friday to officially react to Gov. Patrick’s proposal.
“It makes no sense,” Mayor Kos said regarding the possibility of housing the children at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. “Westover should not be an option because it is not an option.”
Mayor Kos noted that the US Department of Defense said “their bases do not make sense to house children. Plus, security issues and maintaining normal operations... it does not make sense.”
Mayor Kos said he was notified by Gov. Patrick’s chief of staff Friday morning before the official announcement was made.
Patrick was reportedly sentimental while making the announcement as he was joined by a multi-faith contingency at the State House.
The Globe reported:
Patrick, who grew up in Chicago, said he knew what it was like to feel like “a stranger in a strange land,” and began to weep as he paraphrased the Biblical exhortation that, “if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. But rather love him as your son, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
“I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions — and our inactions,” Patrick said.
The other potential destination for the children is Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne.
Since last fall, more than 50,000 such children have been detained and federal officials have asked certain states to help house them. On Thursday afternoon, Patrick had not made a final decision about how much assistance Massachusetts could lend.
But according to the Globe report, that decision came later on Thursday when Patrick said the Commonwealth would find a facility to house several hundred of the children for approximately four months:
A day after lending his support for a temporary facility, Patrick said the shelter would be secure “without being a jail,” administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and allow immigration officials to hold processing hearings for the children.
Camp Edwards, part of an expansive military reservation on Cape Cod that took in evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is under consideration.
“It bears remembering they’re children and they’re alone,” Patrick said. “I think we are the kind of country, and the kind of Commonwealth, who can step up.”
Some cities and states have refused to lend assistance, claiming that they don’t have the facilities to house them or resources to pay for their care, but an earlier report from the Globe said Patrick made clear that any assistance from Massachusetts would be supported by federal funding.
Read the full Globe report on Patrick’s decision here, and feel free to comment below.