In a development that has mirrored national division regarding how to handle the recent influx of immigrant children, Massachusetts voters are split on Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposition regarding housing the youths. Patrick announced last week that he would attempt to find housing for up to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children at military bases throughout the commonwealth. His announcement came on the heels of a plea made from the federal government to state officials to provide a response to the immigration crisis in the form of housing for these undocumented individuals. Patrick indicated that the most likely facilities for housing the minors were either Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts or Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne, Massachusetts.
Response to Patrick’s announcement from his constituents has been varied. According to a recent poll conducted by The Boston Globe, 50 percent of Massachusetts voters support the proposal, while 43 percent do not. The poll also showed that 39 percent of voters surveyed believe undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border should be offered asylum, while 43 percent are against allowing these individuals to stay in the country.
Patrick’s decision, as he indicated in a statement released by his office, is motivated more by a desire to act morally than traditional political policy.
“There are practical, policy and political arguments not to shelter these children, and I have heard many of them,” Patrick said in a statement. “We have consulted with the federal government to assure that they will meet all the children’s needs and bear all the costs. We have consulted with refugee agencies to understand what the children’s needs will be. And I have talked with faith leaders and searched my own conscience. I have come down where I have for two main reasons, love of country and lessons of faith. We are a great nation. Unlike any other superpower, America’s power, to paraphrase a great man, comes from giving, not from taking.”
The federal government is expected to carry the entirety of the cost for housing the children in Massachusetts.