MTA welcomes immigrant children to Massachusetts

The MTA is calling for the Commonwealth to welcome and shelter undocumented immigrant children as their cases are processed by federal authorities.

“Educators care deeply about human rights,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “Taking care of children who are in our country – no matter how they got here – is an important test of our humanity.”

Madeloni praised Governor Deval Patrick, who announced last week that he has offered the Camp Edwards military base on Cape Cod and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee as possible sites for housing unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border into the U.S. seeking to escape gang violence and extreme poverty.

“It is often said that a society is judged by how well it treats the weakest among us,” said Madeloni. “I am hopeful that Massachusetts will be judged well in this crisis.”

"Teachers have always welcomed students in need. We take them in, we nurture them, we treat them with respect, we give them the stability they lack in the rest of their lives and we educate them for as long as they are with us.”

- MTA President Barbara Madeloni

Massachusetts previously welcomed families who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, housing many of them at Camp Edwards. About 25 Katrina evacuees were enrolled in the Bourne Public Schools after the flood and were welcomed by teachers and students alike.

“Teachers have always welcomed students in need,” said Madeloni. “We take them in, we nurture them, we treat them with respect, we give them the stability they lack in the rest of their lives and we educate them for as long as they are with us.”

Madeloni noted that Chelsea has recently experienced an influx of undocumented students, mainly from Central America.

“I love what Chelsea Superintendent Mary Bourque told The Boston Globe when asked how she felt about the situation,” said Madeloni. “The superintendent said, ‘We don’t ask if the kids coming are documented or undocumented. We don’t care. We take politics out of this, because our job is to educate whoever walks over our threshold. We take everyone from where they enter academically, and we move them along with a learning trajectory. That’s our vocation.’”

Madeloni noted that the MTA has a longstanding tradition of defending the rights of children and oppressed people throughout the world.

“The MTA’s mission statement is explicit on this point, highlighting the fact that the association ‘is committed to human and civil rights,’” Madeloni said. “By welcoming these children, we are living up to that honorable tradition.”