Illegal immigrant children will not be housed at Westover in Chicopee
The federal government is no longer asking states to house unaccompanied immigrant children, including right here in western Massachusetts at Westover Air Reserve Base.
If selected, Westover was to house up to 1,000 undocumented immigrant children for up to four months.
The news came from the White House just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday. According to our media partner Mass Live and The Republican, Emily Barson, principal deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, wrote in an email to state officials that the number of unaccompanied minors along the border had dropped and care in shelters had expanded to help the thousands of children who had crossed the border alone earlier this year.
"We are pleased, we think it's the right decision," Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos said, who has been against the possibility since the city first found out last month that Westover could have been a temporary housing option for these children. "As we said from the start we were skeptical that Westover just did not have the housing … it just didn't make sense."
Many community members agreed with Kos, holding a protest just a few weeks ago.
Residents tell CBS3 Tuesday they are happy to hear these children will not be heading to Chicopee.
"I don't think they should be put in anybody's neighborhood but their own," Corinne DuBois said."
"I think our resources could be put to better use somewhere else," Dale Pauly said.
The federal government is no longer asking any states for help with the issue, but Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement obtained by our media partner Mass Live and The Republican that he has been "deeply moved" by the support he's seen across the state, and:
"Once again the people of Massachusetts have displayed great generosity and compassion. 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."
Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe, of Westover, said he stands ready if the federal government needs them in the future.
"We stand here to serve the nation's objectives so the decision made today by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense is their decision about how they want to conduct things however they want to do things and we would follow them," Sgt. Biscoe said.
Congressman Richard Neal, who said from the beginning the plan wouldn't work, released this statement to CBS 3 saying:
"I applaud the decision of the Obama administration not to send unaccompanied migrants youth to Massachusetts. While there is a humanitarian crisis on the border, housing children in military bases like Westover makes little or no sense. We should now take this opportunity to come together in a bipartisan manner to fix our broken immigration system."
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