In Massachusetts and across the country, residents have balked at the prospect of hundreds of immigrant children coming to their towns, angry that public money is being spent on illegal immigrants and worried that the influx would burden local schools and social services.
Yet the federal government insists the impact would be minimal, and many immigration lawyers and advocates describe the emergency shelters established in other states as worlds apart, secure, secluded facilities that quietly serve as way stations for thousands of young migrants.
In one California city where an emergency shelter opened in June at a naval base, the effect on the broader community has been negligible, the mayor says.
“It’s been virtually invisible to us,” said Jon Sharkey, mayor of Port Hueneme, Calif. “It’s had no impact.”
Governor Deval Patrick has proposed taking in as many as 1,000 unaccompanied children who have illegally crossed the US-Mexico border, identifying as potential sites the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Camp Edwards on the Cape.
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