BOURNE – The Bourne Board of Selectmen last night voted unanimously to send a letter to Governor Deval Patrick stating their opposition to the use of Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod for immigrant housing.
Thousands of unaccompanied children from Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have entered the United States via the Mexican border in recent months. The children are seeking sanctuary under a relatively recent law that allows unaccompanied children to be detained rather than returned to their home countries.
Patrick announced last week he agreed to make Camp Edwards and Westover Air Base available to house immigrants after a request from President Obama. If chosen as a location for the detainees, the camp would house up to 1,000 children who would be held for about 35 days, the governor said.
The next step is for the two bases to be evaluated by federal officials. No decision has yet been made to use either of the bases, according to Patrick.
Bourne Selectman Linda Zuern, who has attended two rallies this week in opposition to the immigrants, said she opposes the plan, citing costs to the town of Bourne, as well as health risks.
“My responsibility as a selectman is to make sure the residents are safe and secure and I think that’s what our president should be doing and that’s what our governor should be doing,” she said.
She said she is also concerned about having immigrants in the community. She said there are already 220,000 illegal immigrants living in the commonwealth.
“First of all, we have no idea who is coming in, whether they have illnesses or not. We’ve been told most of the people coming over the border have not have vaccines, that there’s typhoid and other diseases that are spreading near the southern border of our country. Do we really want that here?” she said.
She faulted Obama’s policies on immigration. “Our president, one of his responsibilities is to keep us safe and secure and he has not done that since he’s been in office,” she said. “We’ve also been told some of these kids are not really young. They’re gang members that have come over the border. I just heard something today that they may be involved in drug cartels.”
She said sheriff’s department staff have told her that there are immigrants in the prisons.
“We don’t need to add any more problems to our state or to our small towns,” she said.
Patrick said the costs of the program would be paid in full by the federal government and the children would not attend Bourne schools.