Properly sheltering immigrant children

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Patrick’s proposal to shelter undocumented immigrant children is still a plan that hasn’t been set in stone, and many western Massachusetts residents are anticipating more news to come.

The controversy surrounding the idea of sheltering these children continues. It’s the concept of where these children will stay that still remains a big question. These children fleeing from Central America are seeking shelter, and the governor may be granting them a place to stay in Chicopee.

A member of the state’s Health and Human Services told 22News that a law passed under the Bush administration in 2008 allows these children to be housed while they go through immigration proceedings, until they reach reunification, deportation, or asylum. It’s a law that Governor Patrick wants to act upon in this situation.

Alec Loftus of the Massachusetts Health & Human Services told 22News, “Massachusetts has a long history of helping children in need of services. And that’s what we’re proposing to do here with this plan.”

The idea of sheltering these children in family homes through adoption or foster care is not an option according to Loftus. And non-profits who work with foster care systems don’t see this as a possibility either.

“The state nor anyone can just say, well, this child is not in a good situation, so they need to be put in a foster home and adoption. There needs to be parental consent,” says Kerry Homstead, Community Facilitator of the Treehouse Foundation.

That consent is missing from the parents of these children. But it opens the question to what would happen if those children didn’t need parental consent for families to take care of them.

Many people are opposed to the idea of having immigrant children stay at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. But some people have mixed reviews when it comes to the idea of having theses children stay in family homes.

“I’ve adopted and fostered bunny rabbits from Dakin and a couple of kittens I found on our property so, I think my house is already pretty full,” Kevin Shippee of Springfield told 22News.

“I practice what I preach and if I’m saying that we need to do the right thing, and I was called on by my leadership, my government to do the right thing, then I would stand up and do it,” says Nicole Coyer of Agawam.

A majority of locals don’t feel the same, and are still against the governor’s potential plan. There is still no word yet by the Department of Homeland Security that this plan will take place.

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