Migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard were voluntarily taken to military base for help, officials say


The 50 migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts by the Florida governor this week were flown to a military base on Friday to receive shelter and humanitarian support, officials said.

The migrants voluntarily boarded buses Friday morning — organized by state and local government — that took them from Martha’s Vineyard to Joint Base Cape Cod, officials said.

The migrants had been airlifted to Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – part of a series of moves by Republican governors to fly migrants to liberal enclaves to protest what they say is insufficient federal security efforts at the southern border. Martha’s Vineyard was not expecting the group, and DeSantis’ decision was strongly denounced by the White House, migrant advocates and Democratic officials.

At a church where they were staying in Martha’s Vineyard, migrants cheered on Friday morning when they learned the Massachusetts government would shelter them at the military base on Cape Cod, and hugged each other and locals before boarding buses .

A volunteer helping the migrants was among those hugging them and was in tears as they left.

“It was a really difficult time for another person – several people – in their life, and they shared it with us with such grace, affection and humor. And to be welcomed into their lives and into their hearts. was a gift, Lisa Belcastro said.

A group of civil rights lawyers working with migrants said their stories were “heartbreaking – and infuriating”. Many migrants went to a hospital in need of treatment when they arrived on the island on Wednesday.

Some of those migrants were sent to Martha’s Vineyard even though they have scheduled immigration hearings that are nowhere near Massachusetts, the group said. Migrants released from government custody often move to other cities in the United States during their immigration process.

“This cowardly political stunt has put our clients at risk,” the Lawyers for Civil Rights group said in a press release Friday. “Some now have immigration hearings as early as Monday thousands of miles away.”

Some of the group’s lawyers accompanied the migrants on buses to the Cape Cod base.

Joint Base Cape Cod — already a designated emergency shelter by the state emergency management agency — is being set up to provide “safe, temporary accommodations that meet the needs of families and individuals,” the official said. governor’s office in a statement.

Migrants “will be accommodated in dormitory-like spaces at the JBCC, with separate spaces that can accommodate both individuals and families,” and families will not be separated, the statement said.

They will have access to services including legal services, healthcare, food, hygiene kits and crisis counseling, according to Baker’s office.

Baker, a Republican, praised a temporary shelter the Martha’s Vineyard community has set up for migrants in “a time of urgent need”.

“We are grateful to the vendors, volunteers and local officials who have stepped up to Martha’s Vineyard over the past few days to provide immediate services to these individuals,” Baker said in a news release.

DeSantis’ decision to organize the flight of migrants to Massachusetts was one of two high profile transports sent north by southern Republican governors this week. On Thursday, two migrant buses sent from Texas by Governor Greg Abbott arrived outside the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris in the nation’s capital.

Texas began transporting migrants to Washington this spring. Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey followed suit this year, and both states have since sent thousands of migrants to Washington. Abbott expanded the Texas effort to include New York and Chicago.

The White House on Thursday denounced the actions taken this week by DeSantis and Abbott. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused governors of using migrants as “political pawns” and said their actions constituted a “cruel and premeditated political coup”.

Massachusetts U.S. attorney Rachael Rollins will speak with Justice Department officials about DeSantis sending the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, though she doesn’t yet have enough information to say whether he has breaking the laws by doing so, she told reporters on Thursday.

Despite Wednesday’s unexpected arrivals at Martha’s Vineyard, some islanders have been working quickly to provide some key services.

“Our island has sprang into action by bringing together 50 beds, giving everyone a good meal, providing a play area for the kids, making sure people have the healthcare and support they need. need,” said Massachusetts State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat who represents the island. , wrote on Twitter. “We are a community that comes together to support immigrants.

Tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to help the community, Edgartown City Administrator James Hagerty told CNN on Friday.

Hagerty said overall “the outpouring was huge” and reiterated that the island community answered the call for help when the migrants arrived without notice earlier this week.

“Sometimes we’re alone and fearless here, but we understand the journey of the journey and we understand that we’re a community that ultimately wants to help people,” Hagerty said.

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