CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – If Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee is chosen as the location to house hundreds of immigrant children, the impact will be felt across western Massachusetts. The federal and state governments are asking for your patience and compassion while details are being worked out.
Up to 1,000 children could be housed at the Chicopee military base for a period of up to four months. Governor Patrick says that the youngsters range in age from three to 17. He said they are stranded and alone, and will need at the necessities when they get here.
“The facility would be secured, it would have space for children to sleep, eat, play, and go to school. The average stay for children sheltered there would be 35 days, based on experience elsewhere, during which they would be processed as described,” Patrick said during Friday morning’s news conference.
The base really can’t start organizing and planning until the Department of Homeland Security officially notifies them and as of right now, that still hasn’t happened. This is just a proposal.
One that came as a shock today to base representatives who say they’re not even sure they’d have the resources to handle that many children.
“If it were to happen, it certainly would impact us. For us to speak beyond that I’d be speculating. We have a busy base here as it is with a population of 5500 reservists who train here on weekends and during the week,” said Westover Air Reserve Base Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe.
Master Sgt. Biscoe did say that because this is a federally owned installation, the government would have to come up with a plan and arrangements to make that work here.