The migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard have been voluntarily taken to a military base for support, officials say

At a church where they were staying in Martha’s Vineyard, migrants rejoiced Friday morning when they heard the Massachusetts government would shelter them at a Cape Cod military base. Officials said they voluntarily boarded government buses and reached the military establishment on Friday afternoon.

A volunteer helping the migrants hugged them as they left and tears welled up as they left.

“It was another person’s – many people’s – really difficult moment in their lives, and they shared it with us with so much grace and affection and humor. And it was a gift to be welcomed into their lives and into their hearts.” ,” said Lisa Belcastro.

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A group of civil rights lawyers working with migrants said their stories were “heartbreaking – and outrageous.” Many migrants went to hospital for care when they arrived on the island on Wednesday.

The group said some of these migrants were deported to Martha’s Vineyard even though they have scheduled immigration hearings that are nowhere near Massachusetts. Migrants released from government custody often move to other US cities as they go through their immigration proceedings.

“This cowardly political stunt has put our clients in jeopardy,” the lawyers’ civil rights group said in a news release Friday. “Some people now have immigration hearings as early as Monday, thousands of miles away.”

Some lawyers of the group boarded the buses with the migrants Cape Cod Base.

Migrants in Martha's Vineyard board buses that took them to a military base on Cape Cod on Friday.

Aid that awaits migrants on Cape Codo

Joint Base Cape Cod – an emergency shelter already designated by the State Emergency Management Agency – has been established to provide “a secure temporary accommodation suitable for the needs of families and individuals,” the governor’s office said in a release.

The release said the migrants would be “housed in dormitory-style spaces at JBCC, with separate spaces for both individuals and families,” and families would not be segregated.

According to Baker’s office, they will have access to services including legal, health care, food, hygiene kits and crisis counseling.

Baker, a Republican, lauded a temporary shelter that the Martha’s Vineyard community set up for migrants in a “moment of urgent need.”

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

Migrants board three buses to Joint Base Cape Cod on Friday at Martha's Vineyard.

The flights came from Texas, although Florida governor says he arranged them

Although Florida’s governor says he arranged the flights, the migrants were in Texas – not Florida.

Wednesday’s flights began in San Antonio, Texas, according to Martha’s Vineyard airport director Geoffrey Freeman.

DeSantis takes credit for sending 2 planes carrying migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts
For months, DeSantis has been talking about his plans to include Florida in redirecting migrants from the southern border, which would maximize outrage for Democratic leaders. And last month, DeSantis telegraphed that Florida could help move migrants from the US-Mexico border — not from their state.

“We have the money to be able to do that (that), but it’s from people on the southern border, that’s not going into the interior of Florida,” DeSantis said in an August press conference.

His administration secured $12 million in the state budget to pay for migrant resettlement, and he has repeatedly threatened to use the money to send it to liberal strongholds.
When he laid out his immigration plans at a December news conference, DeSantis teased Martha’s Vineyard as a potential destination, saying, “It’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it’s true, if you’ve seen it.” sent (them) to Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard or something. The borders of these places will be safe the next day.”

At a press conference Friday in Daytona Beach, DeSantis said he intends to use “every penny” of that $12 million and expects more buses and “more likely” flights with migrants paid for by Florida. determines.

“These are just the beginning efforts,” he said. The governor defended using taxpayer dollars to send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard because he said many people crossing the border end up in his state.

A Venezuelan migrant is taken on a bus on Friday in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard.

Civil rights lawyer: Migrants didn’t know they were going to Martha’s Vineyard

The migrants on Wednesday’s planes had no idea they were being taken specifically to Martha’s Vineyard, according to the legal group helping them.

Lawyers for the Civil Rights Group said in a news release that they were prompted to board the planes with “representation of work assistance and immigration relief in Boston.”

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“Mid-flight, they were informed that they were not going to Boston, but to Martha’s Vineyard. They were dropped on the island without anyone in the community noticing,” the news release reads.

In his Friday press conference, the governor of Florida disputed that the migrants did not know where they were going, as he said they had signed a waiver and were provided with a packet containing the description of Martha’s Vineyard. The map included, “it’s clear where they were going,” and that it was all “voluntary.”

Two migrants told CNN that, while they were in San Antonio, they decided to go on a trip after two women and a man hit the streets near the Migrant Resource Center.

One of the migrants, Wilmar Villazana, said they were kept in a hotel for five days before the flights and were well looked after. The women told him they were from Orlando and worked for private organizations that raise money to help migrants, Villazana said.

Villazana and Mora said one of the women told Villazana and the other expatriate Yang Pablo Mora that they would get shelter and help with a job once they reached their destination.

He said Villazana and Mora did not know the flights were headed to Martha’s Vineyard. Villazana thought they were going to Boston, he said.

White House condemns DeSantis move

DeSantis’ decision to arrange a flight of migrants to Massachusetts was one of two high-profile transports sent north this week by Southern Republican governors. On Thursday, two buses of migrants sent from Texas by Governor Greg Abbott arrived outside the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris in the nation’s capital.
Texas began settling immigrants in Washington this spring. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona followed this year, and both states have since sent thousands of migrants to Washington. Abbott has expanded the Texas effort to include New York City and Chicago.
The White House on Thursday condemned DeSantis and Abbott’s moves this week. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused governors of using migrants as “political pawns” and said their actions amounted to “brutal, pre-planned political stunts”.
DeSantis appeals to GOP base with migrant move as he faces re-election and eyes in 2024
U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Rachel Rollins will talk with members of the Justice Department about sending DeSantis’ immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, though she didn’t yet have enough information to say whether she broke any laws in doing so. Yes, he told reporters on Thursday.

Despite Wednesday’s unannounced arrival at Martha’s Vineyard, some residents of the island acted swiftly to provide some key services. The island is known for being a summer haven for the affluent.

Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat who represents the island, said, “Our island jumped into action by putting together 50 beds, giving everyone a good meal, providing a play area for the kids, ensuring that people need health care and support.” , wrote on twitter, “We are a community that comes together to support immigrants.”
Edgartown Town Administrator James Haggerty told CNN Friday that thousands of dollars were donated to help the community.

Haggerty said overall the “rain was overwhelming” and the island community responded to calls for help earlier this week when migrants arrived without notice.

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

CNN’s Steve Contorno, Paul P. Murphy, Bob Crowley, Leyla Santiago, Maria Santana and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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