Group Will Rally in Favor of Housing Children Fleeing Central America

Hundreds are expected to march in support of Governor Deval Patrick's plan for Massachusetts to temporarily house some of the unaccompanied immigrant children.
State House photo uploaded by Robert Linsdell on Flickr

State House photo uploaded by Robert Linsdell on Flickr

Supporters backing a possible plan in Massachusetts to house unaccompanied immigrant children rushing toward the southern United States border are organizing a rally in Copley Square this week, less than a month after protesters stood at the State House steps and told elected officials to turn away undocumented individuals looking to temporarily call the Commonwealth home.

On Thursday, members of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or MIRA, are expecting hundreds of people to meet near Boylston Street before marching to Beacon Hill to support Governor Deval Patrick’s willingness to shelter some of the children at one of two locations in Massachusetts, if the federal government calls on the state for support.

According to event details, the march and rally will send a message to government officials that “Massachusetts has a big heart,” and will “affirm our responsibility to protect all children in need.”

In recent months the federal government has struggled with controlling the influx of children fleeing extreme violence in Central America and trying to cross the border to find refuge in the United States. An estimated 57,000 children have made it from Mexico across the border into the U.S. since October.

Last month, an emotional Patrick said Massachusetts would open its doors, if need be, and offer one or two shelter locations to accommodate up to 1,000 of those children. Patrick said both the Joint Base Cape Cod and Westover Air Base were being considered by federal officials as possibilities, despite pushback from community members who claim the facilities are inadequate options.

If—and when—the government reaches out to Patrick about the housing, the situation would be strictly under federal control, the governor said.

Patrick’s announcement last month wasn’t only criticized by people living near both bases, however.

Protesters flocked to the State House in large numbers following the governor’s public announcement, and shouted down the possibility of allowing unaccompanied minors to stay here. They argued that calling the agreement “temporary” was a “lie,” and feared many of the children would remain in the state longer than intended.

For more information about the rally, visit MIRA’s event page.


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com