SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The housing of up to 1,000 immigrant children in western Massachusetts will ultimately place a burden on Springfield taxpayers, Mayor Domenic Sarno says. In a statement sent to 22News, Sarno said that urban centers are being stressed due to the influx of illegal migrants.
On Friday morning, Governor Deval Patrick announced that he is proposing to the federal government that Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne be used as temporary housing for unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. Sarno says that this is a bad idea.
“First of all, I do care, but we are struggling to take care of our own children and families here in Springfield. Many of whom live near and/or under the poverty level,” Sarno said.
Sarno received attention beyond western Massachusetts months ago for comments he made on the number of refugees being settled in the city of Springfield.
The Springfield mayor is not the only local official expressing opposition to the proposal. During a news conference Friday afternoon, Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos expressed his opposition to the proposal, saying that Westover simply does not have the facilities to house the children. He added that he doubted Governor Patrick’s assertion that local communities would not be impacted.
Spokespeople for two prominent religious groups, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and the Council of Churches of Greater Springfield, said that they welcome the children. Prominent public officials that have expressed support for Gov. Patrick’s plan include Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Senate President Therese Murray.