Neal: “Virtually Unlikely” Westover Would House Migrant Children

Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal says he doesn’t think Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee will be used to temporarily house unaccompanied children who crossed over the nation’s southern border. Governor Deval Patrick has proposed Westover as a shelter site.

Neal says he supports Patrick’s willingness to temporarily house migrant children in the state at the request of the federal government. But Neal says he told the governor last week why Westover wouldn’t be a good site.

“There is no security to speak of for housing a thousand young people,” Neal says. “And secondly, the housing that is on the base is used every weekend by (National) Guard and Reserves.”

And Neal says because of those issues and conversations he’s had with base officials, “I think I can say with some certainty that’s it’s virtually unlikely as a site in the end.”

A spokesperson for Patrick says the governor has no comment on Neal’s remarks. But Patrick did remind reporters at the State House Wednesday that it isn’t a sure thing the children would be coming to Massachusetts in the first place. And he says he’s heard from federal officials that the surge at the southern border has slowed in recent days.

Congressman Richard Neal speaks at Westfield-Barnes airport in January 2014.

Congressman Richard Neal speaks at Westfield-Barnes airport in January 2014.