Protesters gather at anti-illegal immigration rally at State House

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The debate over the immigration crisis continued with hundreds rallying at the State House Saturday. 

The opposition could be heard loud an clear to Governor Deval Patrick's offer to shelter more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors from the border crisis at Camp Edwards in Bourne or Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

Organizers including lawmakers like State Rep. Mark Lombardo say the burden on Massachusetts would be too large for communities to handle and that the government should fix local problems.

"What we're doing is becoming a magnet state for illegal immigration and we just can't afford it. We're not adequately taking care of our own children; our own veterans; our own families who are struggling here in Massachusetts. We gotta put American families first," Lombardo said.

This week state officials said it's unclear how many unaccompanied minors could be housed in the Bay State for what would be up to four months, and it remains unclear if they'd stay longer.

At a summit to talk about concerns over the immigration crisis' impact on the state, immigrant activists demanded to be heard. And Patrick told FOX 25 communities like Lynn oChicopeeee or Bourne, whose local governments have joined together in rejecting the offer are missing the point, and that the state has been housing children from outside Massachusetts for decades.

Bourne selectmen wrote a letter to the governor this week, and Chicopee invited Patrick to a meeting in that city. Patrick reportedly rejected Chicopee's offer.

"This is not about taking children and placing them in our communities. It's about having them in a secure facility for a temporary period of time," he said.

Bourne Selectwoman Linda Zuern  said Saturday that she has little faith in Patrick or what has been a promise of federal dollars to cover the cost of sheltering the unaccompanied minors.

"The federal government picks up the tab for what part of the process? Just as long as they're on the base? And then after they're put into foster homes and with other family members, of course we're going to assume that cost," she said.

She went on to say, "We're told by Homeland Security the other night that 770 kids have already come into our state. And we didn't even know about that before. So, if we have another thousand when does it stop?"

FOX 25 reach out to immigrant advocacy group MIRA for comment and have not heard back.

They have said they stand with Patrick, saying these illegal kids caught in the crisis are fleeing starvation, rape, and murder in their home countries.