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Migrants shipped to Martha’s Vineyard are leaving Joint Base Cape Cod

U.S. Customs and Border Protection provide assistance to illegal immigrant children.(Hector Silva/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
October 05, 2022

The dozens of migrants who were shipped to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last month are expected to leave Joint Base Cape Cod this week.

The 49 Venezuelan immigrants were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard on the orders of DeSantis, surprising the island community last month.

After local residents and groups stepped up to help the migrants, they were moved to the military base on Cape Cod, which has been better equipped to meet their housing, food and basic needs.

As of Tuesday, 35 individuals and family members remain at Joint Base Cape Cod, and are working with case managers on more sustainable housing plans. Fourteen people, including family units, have left the base for opportunities in and outside Massachusetts.

The state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security expects that the remaining 35 residents will depart the military base this week as transitional housing opportunities are finalized. The state’s temporary shelter operation is scheduled to end by this weekend.

“We are incredibly grateful for so many of our partners who’ve mobilized to help the folks sheltering at Joint Base Cape Cod,” acting MEMA Director Dawn Brantley said.

“I especially want to thank the professionals at Father Bill’s & MainSpring for the tremendous expertise and compassion that they brought to this response,” Brantley added of the agency that provides housing and helps people obtain jobs. “Their team has worked hard, around the clock from day one to ensure that day-to-day operations and service provision run smoothly. We are fortunate and very grateful they are part of this team.”

Gov. Charlie Baker activated up to 125 members of the Massachusetts National Guard as part of this relief effort after the migrants arrived unexpectedly on Martha’s Vineyard three weeks ago.

The migrants were in a San Antonio shelter when they were approached and offered housing, job search assistance and a plane ride to Boston. They were misled to board the planes and cross state lines under false pretenses, according to officials and advocates.

DeSantis said the flights to Martha’s Vineyard, paid for by Florida, were part of an effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

Texas sheriff’s office has launched an investigation into how the migrants were allegedly tricked into getting onto the planes, and Lawyers for Civil Rights has filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis.


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