Minutes after the affirmative action committee took action on the issue of housing illegal immigrant children at Camp Edwards on Tuesday, August 5, they received word that President Barack Obama’s administration was no longer seeking temporary shelters.
During the meeting, the committee approved a measure to send a letter of concern to the board of selectmen, advising them to push for a memorandum of understanding between the town and the state, setting parameters on how the detention center would be managed.
Committee chairman James C. Lancaster said he wanted Falmouth to prepare for the influx of children to Joint Base Cape Cod. He also wanted to ensure the rhetoric in Falmouth did not mirror what he heard coming from Bourne residents and what he saw on the signs during a recent protest at the Otis Rotary.
“I was appalled at what was being said in Bourne. I thought we had gotten way past this,” Mr. Lancaster said.
The Bourne Board of Selectmen took a stand two weeks ago against the idea of temporarily housing the unaccompanied minors. They sent a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick asking him to retract his offer to temporarily house some of the children here in Massachusetts. One sign held by a protester at the Otis Rotary read: “Coming to Your Child’s School: TB, Lice, Scabies.”
Falmouth resident Rhaenel T. Stone urged the committee and town to be a proud sponsor of the children.
“We have a human responsibility to care for these children,” she said.
Hatchville resident Michael W. Duggan said although the federal government was to pay for the expenses associated with the temporary detention centers, he would “be upset if someone drops the ball and it ends up coming out of our pockets.”
The committee said it would ask the town’s No Place For Hate Committee to also write a letter of concern to the selectmen, addressing citizens’ concerns and offering ideas put forth by supporters, like asking retired teachers to give the children school lessons while they are here.