CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – On Sunday, protesters rallied against undocumented immigrant children coming to Massachusetts, and especially Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, a day after thousands reportedly protested at the State House Saturday.
As rain poured down on them early Sunday afternoon, two dozen concerned citizens from Greater Chicopee protested the possibility of undocumented immigrant children living at Westover Air Reserve Base. Cars beeped as they passed the protesters stationed on the Memorial Drive rotary.
“I think that the uprising of the people standing up to the government right now is going to make a big change in this issue. At least I can hope so,” Rally organizer Wendy Olbrich of Chicopee told 22News.
After Governor Deval Patrick announced this possibility, Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos and State Representative Joseph Wagner invited him to the city.
“I don’t intend to go,” Governor Patrick said, in part.
The protesters said they didn’t like that response. David Terranova of Chicopee told 22News, “I think that’s really low. He wants to throw all these people here and he’s not willing to listen to our side of the story and that’s just wrong. Plain and simple wrong.”
Protesters said they didn’t want their tax money helping undocumented children when it could help documented Americans, particularly veterans.
This was a complete grassroots effort that started among Facebook friends and led to a Facebook group about it. Organizers said they did have some opposition from people, mainly because they said since it involves children, it’s a little different. Some of the participants were there to represent the Pioneer Valley Tea Party group.
22News spoke with one man who said he was undecided. He said he could see both sides of the issue, especially since he was adopted from Japan.
“I was adopted when I was a little kid, so, through an American family, so I guess that might pull on it as well. I don’t see us as a country just putting them all on a bus and shipping them back,” said Jay Pooler of West Springfield.
A 2008 law allows these children from Central America to be housed temporarily in the United States as they wait for immigration proceedings, and either asylum or deportation.