WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In the wake of the immigration crisis in the U-S and right here in Massachusetts, local state leaders are raising concerns on the state proposing universities and colleges be used for emergency shelter.

State Senator John Velis of Westfield, says this will only deviate the university from educating students, and western Massachusetts continues to feel the brunt of this immigration crisis.

Senator Velis tells us that a report from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency deemed Lammers Hall at Westfield State University as quote, “technically feasible” to be an emergency shelter for migrants. He points out that also in that report, the dorm building faces ADA accessibility challenges, has potential asbestos tiling issues, lacks access to medical clinics and kitchen services for families, and it would impact the University’s Student Mental Health Counseling Services, located in Lammers Hall.

Velis adds, “The US constitution is very clear: immigration is the province of the federal government. These are issues that we are taking because there is inaction at the federal level. We need help. What is happening is that this trickling down affect, we are having to do it, we are having to fund it. We don’t have the money to do that.”

Velis says Lammers Hall is right in the center of campus and is not equipped to be an emergency shelter, he urges the state to quote, “exhaust every other option”, including hotels, in every community, before Westfield State University is considered.

Besides universities, the Healey Driscoll administration has been urging landlords, churches, and even private residents to open their homes to help house migrants.

Local News

Kristina D’Amours is a reporter who is a part of the evening 22News team. Follow Kristina on X @KristinaD_WWLP and view her bio to see more of her work.