Approximately 75 residents rallied on the Falmouth Village Green late Monday afternoon, July 21, in support of Governor Deval L. Patrick’s invitation to the federal government to allow children who have fled Central America and flocked to the United States to be housed at Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod.
Some raised signs along the fence of the green that read “Compassion is a Cape Cod Value,” “Keep the Children: Deport the Racists,” and “We are all God’s Children,” as well as other messages.
“This is a humane crisis,” said the Reverend Nell Fields of the Waquoit Congregational Church. “This is not a political issue but a humanity issue. We want to show that Cape Cod is a compassionate place.”
Organizers proposed the rally in response to a protest at the Otis Rotary on Sunday, July 20, in which approximately two dozen residents voiced disapproval of Gov. Patrick’s invitation.
Several thousand youth from Central America have traveled across the Mexican border into the United States where they have been detained by immigration officials. Gov. Patrick announced last week that he has offered Camp Edwards as a possible temporary home for several hundred of the immigrants.
The rally on the green was organized by members of Occupy Falmouth.
“We put this together in under eight hours,” said Peter L. Waasdorp Jr., looking out at the group gathered on the sunny late afternoon. Mr. Waasdorp is a member of Occupy Falmouth and the Cape Cod and Islands node of 350 Massachusetts. He said he sent out an e-mail early Monday morning that circulated through the different clergy and political groups in Falmouth.
The approximately 75 gathered for a group photograph, which was followed by brief words from organizers.
“We wanted to counter the negativity,” Paul Rifkin said of Sunday’s protest. He said that the federal government does not often make humane choices but when they do, the people need to show their support. “We wanted to show the governor that we have people ready to mobilize and to help him out.”
Some drivers honked and gave the thumbs-up as they drove by; others yelled their disagreement, some using profane language.
On an opposite sidewalk, six gathered in opposition to the Village Green rally. Bourne selectman Linda M. Zuern carried a large white sign that read “Secure Our Border.”
“It is the responsibility of the federal government to keep us safe,” Ms. Zuern said. “I don’t think this makes me feel safe,” she said of Gov. Patrick’s invitation.
“Deval Patrick favors illegal immigrants. He caters to them,” said Janice L. Perry, a resident of Falmouth wearing a black T-shirt embroidered with an American flag. “Some of these immigrants are drug dealers passing themselves off as children.”
One driver traveling on West Main Street shouted out to the smaller group that they were racist.
“The problem I have is that when you get called a racist, it shuts down my speech,” said Erich F. Horgan of Woods Hole. “We are not against immigration, we are against illegal immigration.” Mr. Horgan said that he shares many views with those gathered on the Village Green, including that he has compassion for the children but he cannot support open immigration.