In a reflection of the nationwide division over how to deal with the recent mass arrival of immigrant children, voters in Massachusetts appear to be split over the proposition by Governor Deval Patrick to house the youngsters. Last week Patrick announced that he was going to try to find housing for as many as 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant minors at military bases in the commonwealth.
The announcement came after a plea to state officials from the federal government to respond to the immigration crisis by providing housing for the new arrivals. Patrick has indicated that the facilities most likely to be used to house the immigrants will be Joint Base Cape Cod, which is located in Bourne in Massachusetts, or Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, also in Massachusetts.
The response to Patrick’s announcement from his constituents has been mixed. A recent poll in the Boston Globe suggests that 50% of voters in Massachusetts agree with the proposal, while 43% are against it. 39% of those surveyed believe that undocumented immigrants who have been caught crossing the US border should be given asylum, with 43% opposed to this idea.
Patrick says his decision was motivated less by traditional political policy than by morality. “There are practical, policy and political arguments not to shelter these children, and I have heard many of them,” he admits. “We have consulted with the federal government to assure that they will meet all the children’s needs and bear all the costs,” he said, adding: “We are a great nation. Unlike any other superpower, America’s power, to paraphrase a great man, comes from giving, not taking.”