Massachusetts no longer an option for immigrant children

Chicopee Mayor Kos opposed the idea from Day 1

Immigration Overload Courts
FILE - This June 18, 2014, file photo, detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, processing facility in Brownsville,Texas. Immigration courts backlogged by years of staffing shortages and tougher enforcement face an even more daunting challenge since tens of thousands of Central Americans began arriving on the U.S. border fleeing violence back home. For years, children from Central America traveling alone and immigrants who prove they have a credible fear of returning home have been entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool, File)

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts military bases will not be used to shelter undocumented immigrant children.

Health and Human Services e-mailed Governor Deval Patrick just before 5 o’clock Tuesday night, saying fewer Central American children are crossing the border into our country and the federal government no longer needs Westover Air Reserve Base and Joint Base Cape Cod to operate as shelters.

Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos told 22News, “Right from the start, we said that Westover does not make sense. It does not have the housing and the security issues there were paramount.”

Mayor Kos opposed the idea from Day 1. About three weeks ago, Governor Patrick told the federal government, if needed, Westover in Chicopee and Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne could house Central American children who crossed the U.S. Mexico border without documentation.

However, that changed Tuesday. According to Rick Sullivan, the Chief of Staff to Governor Patrick, “The number of children coming to the border has decreased dramatically, so not only are they not interested in either the Cape Cod or the Westover facility here in Massachusetts, they are actually closing some of the existing facilities as well.”

Gov. Patrick traveled to Tanglewood Music Center in Berkshire County, Tuesday night, to be the guest performer at their celebration of the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. 22News also traveled to try to talk to him, but Gov. Patrick did not have any availability to speak to us about Westover and undocumented children.

Instead, the Governor released a statement. It reads in part: “It appears that there is not a need for Massachusetts to serve these children at this time, but I am proud of our willingness to do so.”

Westover officials told 22News that they’re always ready to help. Msgt. Andrew Biscoe said, “Our basic existence, for the purpose of serving America, and that’s what we do. Whatever the Department of Defense chain of command needs, we provide.”

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