BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The long journey from Venezuela to the United States is far from over for around 50 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, unexpectedly flown to Martha's Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas Wednesday with coordination by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
In an announcement Friday morning, Governor Baker says the state will be moving the group off Martha's Vineyard to the military base on Cape Cod. Joint Base Cape Cod has dorm-like housing, and the governor's office says there will be separate spaces for individuals and families who want to stay together.
The governor has activated up to 125 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to help with the relocation to temporary housing, and the state stresses the move will be voluntary for the migrants.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency will be tasked with coordinating humanitarian aid: working with state and local officials "to ensure access to food, shelter and essential services for these men, women and children." The National Guard will also help with the relief effort, providing hygiene kits, counseling, interpreters when needed, and ensuring access to health care.
JBCC is already a MEMA-designated emergency shelter, which has "historically housed and cared for displaced individuals, including Louisiana residents fleeing the impact of Hurricane Katrina, as well as an alternative care medical site for Massachusetts residents during the COVID-19 pandemic." The Governor's office says there may be dedicated spaces set up on the base to provide legal services and basic healthcare for the migrants.
Since two chartered flights arrived on the Vineyard, residents have worked with local and state officials to meet the urgent care need, creating a temporary shelter at a local church. However, the governor's office says "the island communities are not equipped to provide sustainable accommodation."
The move by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis comes amid similar relocations by the Governors of Texas and Arkansas, sending groups of migrants, largely refugees, to cities like New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago. The Republican Governors accuse the Biden Administration of ignoring a crisis at the border, and have sent migrants to so-called 'Sanctuary Cities,' which they say have encouraged illegal immigration.
The White House has been quick to admonish Gov. Desantis' move, saying "using migrants as political pawns is shameful."
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