Massachusetts Will Not House Children Fleeing Central America [Updated]

Governor Deval Patrick said the state offered support, but it’s no longer needed.


Massachusetts will not need to house unaccompanied immigrant children who have crowded the southern United States border, seeking refuge from their crime-ridden countries in Central America, according to a statement from Governor Deval Patrick.

“I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support we have seen from across the Commonwealth, as over 1,600 of our neighbors reached out to express their support for children who are alone and thousands of miles from home,” Patrick said in a statement on Tuesday.

The governor commended people for their “great generosity and compassion,” but ultimately said that “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,” he said.

Patrick had said last month, after federal officials announced that the swell of children coming over the border had become unmanageable, that the state would offer up two possible locations for temporary shelter in Massachusetts. The facilities would have been managed by federal agencies.

The announcement quickly led to protests on the State House steps from people against the proposition. Counter-rallies backing Patrick’s original plan were also scheduled for this week.


Citing his continued faith in humanity and strong patriotism, an emotional Governor Deval Patrick said Friday that one of two facilities in Massachusetts could temporarily house up to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children who have flooded the Southern United States border in recent months.

In an announcement Friday morning, Patrick said the federal government has reached out to Massachusetts to possibly provide space for a four-month period for children who have fled their countries in Central America and tried to enter the U.S. without parents by their side. Patrick said he would not close the door to those children if and when the federal government decides Massachusetts would be an ideal spot for their shelter.

“There are an estimated 50,000 children on the Southern border. The government is asking for a 90,000-square-foot space to accommodate up to 1,000 children. How many we get, or if we get any, remains to be seen,” Patrick said, adding that the children would be temporarily sheltered while the government processed them for deportation or reunited them with families in the U.S.

The governor said one of two facilities—the Joint Base Cape Cod and Westover Air Base—are being considered by federal officials. He said the spaces could safely house children with a place to eat, sleep, play, and go to school for an average of 35 days. All expenses and operations within the facilities would be covered by the federal Department of Human Health and Services.

Asked about the children’s health, Patrick said the law requires a “well-child screening” within three days of arrival on U.S. soil. If the government decides they want to use a facility in Massachusetts, they will make sure the screening is a condition of the children being here.

“Although this is temporary shelter—should there be one—it will be under exclusive federal control and responsibility,” Patrick said before launching into an emotional reading of faith-based literature. “America and this Commonwealth in particular has given sanctuary to desperate children in need for centuries.”

The governor said a mistake made by the United States in 1939, when the country turned its back on Jewish refugees trying to flee a Nazi-occupied Germany, should not be repeated. “It remains a blight on our nation,” he said. “This good nation is great when we open our hearts to needy children, and diminishes when we don’t.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley joined Patrick and Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faith leaders in making the announcement that the Commonwealth would not turn its back on children in need of the temporary services.

“These children did not run just to the United States of America, they ran to an ideal that our forefathers and our ancestors ran to also,” Morning Star Baptist Church Bishop John M. Borders, III, said. “Let’s show mercy to these children while they are in our state and presence, let’s practice the golden rule, and be the kind of Americans that people naturally know we are.”

Both congregational leaders and Patrick’s office have been flooded with inquiries about how volunteers can assist if and when children are transported to Massachusetts. The governor said a “Q and A” addressing the most common inquiries about the potential process would be available on the state’s website, and that his administration would keep a tally of people who want to reach out and donate to the cause, or offer assistance, to pass on to federal workers in charge of the initiative.

Patrick’s decision to embrace these children has been met by some criticism from elected officials on Beacon Hill. But the governor stood strong in his decision to keep the doors open for the potential housing situation.

“This isn’t a political decision,” Patrick said to a rousing applause from a crowd at the State House, after being asked how he will deal with backlash from officials who don’t support the efforts. “Maybe it’s best to leave it at that.”

  • Patty

    if they are sent here then release them all for adoption so families who care enough about their children will care for them and not send them on perilous journey’s where they are hurt, mistreated, assaulted and starved. Their parents do not deserve them as they are sending them here knowing the United States has enough on it’s plate. How many homeless AMERICAN children in Massachusetts are here and not getting help? I have no problem helping kids but put them up for adoption or send them home. We cannot find homes for our veterans or for families who are homeless because they are priced out and even though they work they cannot afford housing. Enough is enough!!

  • Jan Dumas

    I agree the children should be cared for, I just disagree on the method. I think these children, and indeed every person crossing border should be placed in refugee camps. There we can still feed them, learn their medical histories, vaccinate, and provide the home they need so they can be reviewed by an Immigration judge.

    Finally the camps would call attention to just how horrible the conditions in our neighbors to the south is and maybe push those nations to fix their own problems.


    Cut the crap. We are paying for enough people on the dole as it is and many of them illegal.They all come here cause they know it’s a free ride.We can’t even take care of our own citizens and elderly never mind these people. Toss them back over the fence and close the borders.For rhat matter toss Patrick back over the fence as well. Racist or not I don’t give a damn. I’m paying for it so I should have a say in how my money gets spent…

  • deniseeeee

    Anyone and that means everyone, that comes to this country illegally, needs to be sent back to their own country.
    This has become a country of overload. We can’t take care of own. I don’t care where you go in the USA, there are homeless everywhere. Every town is dealing with this problem. Just can’t take care of the whole worlds children! We have such huge economic problems……who will pay for this???

  • MSD

    Oh great! Cannot wait for this rich idiot to get done with his governorship. Kids from developing countries are extremely street smart and know how to twist the hearts of these bleeding liberals. If there was a crisis people would have fled to neighboring countries like they are in Syria. How many Syrian children do we know who are jumping on boats in droves? None! Why? Because they are with their families in refugee camps. The calculating, uneducated poor think once they send their kids here, these kids can send for them once they are settled. I think we have an over supply of toilet cleaners, garbage pickers, nannies, gardeners and such, already.

  • kelly hall

    Anyone ready for a revolt? I don’t see any info online about rallies. Venting in chat links to news sites doesn’t create change. We need to fight.

  • Karen McBride King

    “Are there no prisons?”

    “Plenty of prisons…”

    “And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

    “Both very busy, sir…”

    “Those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

  • DO

    How many people can we continue to “save” – at what point will enough be enough, and simply begin to focus on what is best for those that are living here, already. When will we stop trying to save the world and be the ultimate peacemaker, many changes have occurred in global politics since the 1950’s. We can’t save everyone. We can solve every problem. People have to begin improving their own countries infrastructure or find ways to make a better life, I can’t imagine the amount of resources and funding that are being put towards housing the people entering the country illegally. Our borders need to be more secure, for many reasons. Primarily for safety, but also as a deterrent from people thinking the U.S.A will save them. Our focus externally – on world issues – prevents or distracts us from resolving our domestic issues. I think now is the time to being to focus locally, while maintaining a vigilant eye on the world around us and its dangers to our citizens.

  • Disgruntled2012

    Temporarily. Right. Just like that “temporary” tax increase?

  • Diane c

    I’d be happy to help. I am bilingual and a teacher. I am a licensed foster

  • Katharine Bohrs

    Wow, NOBODY in this comment section actually read the article.

    “I just disagree on the method. I think these children, and indeed every person crossing border should be placed in refugee camps. There we can still feed them, learn their medical histories, vaccinate, and provide the home they need so they can be reviewed by an Immigration judge.” …….That’s pretty much exactly what the article says is about to happen: “the children would be temporarily sheltered while the government processed them for deportation or reunited them with families in the U.S.”

    These kids are not going to live here, they are only attending school for 35 days, they’re not even entering into neighborhoods, and MA doesn’t have to pay for it. Everybody calm down and please take the time to read what an article says before you start spreading fear and hate. It’s not only lazy, it’s childish.

    • Kara

      You quoted one comment , how does that show that nobody ( all caps) read the article . That’s one person. Most of the other comments I’ve read…while some may teeter on the edge, and I don’t agree w that…at core they all show a pretty solid understanding of what’s going on, & pretty decent insights. Being practical isn’t always an easy or happy thing, sometimes it really sucks. I truly wish we could help every single person in the world, but we cannot. I believe in legal immigration, not this hullabaloo. I feel for these kids very much but they simply must go back. Btw, Obama just said that maybe we should set up a base in Honduras , and start taking claims for refugee status from kids on their home turf…??? This is unacceptable, and it’s irresponsible comments such as these that have GREATLY (all caps) contributed to our current predicament.

  • ChefPattyO

    Three simple words,SEND THEM BACK!!!!!! NO exceptions,you come here legally or not at all!!!!!