BOSTON — It looks like Massachusetts won’t be hosting unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s southern border at one of two proposed shelters in the state.
Emily Barson, a deputy director at the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), informed Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday that due to an easing of the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, the Obama administration is no longer seeking facilities for temporary shelters for the kids.
“Since the beginning of July, we have begun to see some initial signs of progress along our Southwest border…,” Barson said in a statement. “As a result of this progress, HHS is no longer seeking facilities for temporary shelters for unaccompanied children at this time.”
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Patrick had offered Camp Edwards military base in Bourne and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee as possible locations to house up to 1,000 children for up to 35 days.
All expenses and responsibility for the children would have been picked up by the federal government, Patrick said last month.
But Patrick said Tuesday that he has been “deeply moved by the outpouring of support” for his offer.
“It appears that there is not a need for Massachusetts to serve these children at this time, but I am proud of our willingness to do so,” he said in a statement.
Patrick became emotional when he first offered the two sites, as he called sheltering the children a moral and religious obligation.
In her statement, Barson said the situation at the border is still fluid and there remains “substantial uncertainty” about future numbers of unaccompanied children.
Patrick spokeswoman Jesse Mermell said Massachusetts would be willing to help, should the situation change again.
“Should the need for additional temporary shelter space arise in the future, the Patrick Administration stands ready to continue conversations with the federal government about how the Commonwealth may assist these children,” she said in a statement.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom