U.S. immigration policy affecting Springfield

Springfield locals sympathize for the situation undocumented immigrant children are in

President Obama said he's not waiting for Republicans to take action on a sweeping immigration overhall

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to shelter hundreds of undocumented immigrant children at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee could add to the nation’s immigration crisis.

This is a controversial topic that has many residents angry. But some people in Springfield are sympathetic in this situation, and don’t think immigrant children should always be cast aside.

For a country that was founded on immigrants, the immigration crisis has escalated with the potential of bringing undocumented children from Central America to Chicopee. But this opens the question of how undocumented children should be treated alongside legally documented children.

“It shouldn’t be, where as undocumented kids shouldn’t have the same privilege because we don’t know, as I say, their situation,” Kerryann Smith-Francis of Springfield told 22News.

And those situations have some Springfield locals sympathizing for illegal immigrant children.

Ismael Lopez of Springfield says, “We should have compassion for those kids because they’re coming from places where they’re trying to fight for freedom and fight for the things that we have.

But there’s a controversy around which of these freedoms should be granted, and how. A piece of federal legislation helps children without some documention still have the same rights as other children.

The McKinney-Vento act allows children who are homeless to receive funding to go to school, but it’s undocumented children who will still have problems.

Azell Cavaan, a spokesperson for the Sringfield School District, told 22News, “We need to have some sort of identification of the student. Immunization records, a birth certificate, custotial, guardianship, those types of things.”

Cavaan told 22News it’s rare to have children apply for school enrollment without any documentation, and if this is the case, they refer them to agencies to get proper documentation. The Parent and Community Engagement Center in Springfield works to enroll children in any situation. It’s efforts like these that give opportunities to immigrant children, while creating a bigger, more controversial melting pot.

Governor Patrick says that, should the children stay in Chicopee, they will not be attending local schools.

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