Chicopee residents still concerned about Westover plan

Residents wonder what would happen to the children after four months

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Fleeing from what Governor Deval Patrick called ‘a humanitarian crisis’ in Central America, thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children have inundated the U-S border. Under a proposal by the governor, some of those children could be coming to Westover Reserve Base in Chicopee. Almost a week after he made that announcement, many people in the city remain skeptical and concerned.

“When I first heard it I was skeptical; I wanted to learn more about it. Anytime you have unknown people coming to your town, there’s cause for concern,” said Austin Monaghan from Chicopee.

Governor Patrick defended his plan this week, to provide shelter and safety to up to 1,000 refugee children at Westover or at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod. Patrick said the arrangement would last about four months and would be federally funded. The children would not attend schools, nor would they leave the base at all.

Donald Demers of Chicopee told 22News he is not sure what would happen to the children after the four months.

“I guess that wouldn’t be so bad, but I want guarantees that’s the way it’s going to happen. What happens after that? Is it the parents that want to be reunited with their children and we have to support them as well? That’s my concern,” Demers said.

Many critics of the plan admit they feel sorry for the children, but they also sympathize with the many Americans who need help.

“There are so many poor people I’m Chicopee and homeless in hotels. I don’t think it’s a good idea. There’s so much hunger and stuff. People living in the streets. And the vets also; there are a lot of veterans who have no place to live,” said Chris Johnston from Chicopee.

The governor’s proposal remains just that for now: a proposal. The ultimate decision would be made by the Department of Homeland Security, and it would be up to the government to facilitate the plan.

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