Martha’s Vineyard remains in national spotlight

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A closer look at the "Vineyard Hypocrites!" banner. — Sandra Melkonian

The 50 migrants and refugees left for the mainland on Friday, but that hasn’t dimmed the spotlight on Martha’s Vineyard.

On Wednesday afternoon when two planes arrived unannounced at Martha’s Vineyard Airport carrying the migrants and refugees, Island social services, public safety, school officials, and volunteers sprung into action creating a temporary shelter at St. Andrew’s Church in Edgartown. That was always seen as a short-term solution because of the crowded conditions and lack of facilities at the church and its rectory.

On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the migrants and refugees would be given the opportunity to move to Joint Base Cape Cod. In a press release on Sunday, the Baker-Polito administration reiterated that “the commonwealth offered the migrants a voluntary transition from the Martha’s Vineyard facility to JBCC. State officials provided transportation to individuals and families from the Island to a temporary shelter on JBCC, where a broad range of services have been established to support urgent needs.”

According to the release, “The dormitory-style space at JBCC allows organizers to create specific housing areas for families, who will remain together as a unit, women, and any person with specific needs including medical care. Dedicated space for these groups ensures their continued safety, security, and privacy.”

The state shared a video of the housing with the release.

 

A small plane towing a banner with the words “Vineyard Hypocrites” has been seen circling in up-Island airspace Monday morning.

According to Martha’s Vineyard Airport Director Geoff Freeman, the plane did not originate from the Island’s main airport, nor did it take off from the much smaller, private Katama Airfield, according to their representatives.

Freeman told The Times that the small plane is not communicating with MVY air traffic control tower.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), planes that fly below 1,400 feet are not required to communicate with air traffic control, often unseen on tower radar,  and are exempt from the aviation regulations abided by larger commercial planes. Martha’s Vineyard Airport (MVY) Commission chair Bob Rosenbaum clarified that the airport’s Class D airspace extends five miles from the center of the airport, and up to an elevation of 2,600 feet, indicating that the plane towing the banner must have been circling outside of said airspace, and hindering identification.

As to where the plane took off from, FAA staff told The Times that it would be virtually impossible to decipher who charted the banner-tow, as the plane’s tail number likely is not consistent with the manufacturer of the banner itself, or the entities that paid for the flight. 

The banner follows considerable backlash from a handful of right leaning news outlets and members of the public deeming the recent transfer of 50 Venezuelan migrants to Joint Base Cape Cod “hypocritical.” 

It remains unclear at this point who is responsible for the plane and banner.

The “Vineyard hypocrites” line is a false narrative being promoted on social media and public statements made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state paid for the migrants to be flown to the Island, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Both DeSantis and Cruz have used words like “deported” to describe Gov. Baker’s decision to move the 50 individuals to Joint Base Cape Cod where they have dormitory style housing with access to bathrooms, showers, and food. 

The Times comment section has been deluged by commenters, many providing false names and not approved for posting as a result, who are criticizing the “Vineyard elites,” and The Times newsroom is also receiving calls from folks demanding to know why the Island “sent those illegals packing.”

The Times isn’t the only place receiving calls criticizing the Island. Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School principal Sara Dingledy said the school has also been receiving calls from people making negative remarks. In an Islanders Talk Facebook post, The Dockside Inn owner John Tiernan said his inn got a call Friday night from a man who was displeased about the Vineyard and the migrants’ situation. 

But the narrative being portrayed by DeSantis and Cruz doesn’t match the outpouring of support. 

Even high-profile attorney and Chilmark resident Alan Dershowitz, who has had his issues with the Vineyard community claiming he’s been shunned for his legal support of former President Donald Trump, told The Times the Island “opened its arms and welcomed the refugees.” Dershowitz said and The Times had confirmed he offered to provide food and lodging for the migrants and refugees.

Was a heartwarming email asking me to do what I can to make sure the migrants are cared for,” Rabbi Tzvi Alperwitz of Chabad of Martha’s Vineyard wrote in an email. “Alan offered to pay whatever it would cost.”

Dershowitz said if he was interviewed about the subject he “would set the record straight” about the Island’s response.

Meanwhile, immigration lawyers at Joint Base Cape Cod are helping the migrants and refugees work through the legal questions surrounding their status. They were processed in Texas, but before boarding the planes they allegedly signed documents with addresses in various parts of the country, according to Rachel Self, an immigration attorney who is one of several attempting to help the migrants and refugees.

Matt Cameron, a Boston-based immigration attorney who has put his name on the list of attorneys to assist the migrants, said the idea that these migrants were forced off the Island is “ridiculous.” 

Cameron said attorneys will help them check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement remotely. He confirmed a brochure has been circulating that shows some of the false promises of jobs and housing that were offered to these individuals to entice them to go on the planes.

Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), issued a “nationwide alert and warning” about a woman who called herself “Perla” in relation to the Venezuelan migrants. The league is offering a $5,000 reward for “information leading to the positive identification, arrest and conviction” of the woman.  

The release stated that migrants interviewed by LULAC on Martha’s Vineyard “blamed [Perla] for falsely enticing them with three months of work, free housing, and other support if they agreed to take the 2,100-mile flight from Texas. None of the migrants were told where they were being taken.” Perla approached the migrants near the migrant resource center in San Antonio, Texas. 

“Clearly, her actions were to use lies to lure men and women into being used as political piñatas without their knowledge. It is a crime to recruit immigrants for employment when they do not have work permits. The entire country is witnessing the shameful toll these lies have taken on people in despair, the least among us. Jesus would be very disappointed by Governor [Ron] DeSantis and Governor [Greg] Abbott,” Garcia, who came to Edgartown on Friday to meet the migrants, said in a statement. 

As for the future of these migrants and refugees, Cameron is confident they will be able to find places to live. “There are communities all over Massachusetts ready to take them in,” he said. “They won’t have any trouble if they want to stay here.”

Reporters Eunki Seonwoo, Abigail Rosen, and Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, the ignorant, uninformed and malicious comments and stupid memes persist as one would expect given the sad state of affairs these days.
    Perhaps the Vineyard should charter a few buses and fill them with right-wing media pundits, a videographer, a selection of southern Republican legislators, and several dozen everyday folk who believe that the Island is full of rich snobs and liberal hypocrites. Give them a tour and show them what a safe, diverse, and multicultural community actually looks like. I’m not sure they’ve actually ever seen one.

  2. Thank you for doing this article without delay. Horrified by the ugly targeting you are experiencing there – and by the cruelty that underlies the perpetrators’ worldview. Stay the course, MV Times, and good people of the Vineyard! Although we couldn’t be on-Island last week to help out, as long-time seasonal residents, we are so prroud of the Island’s response, and are doing what we can to spread the word.

  3. I was in the military– accommodations are always immaculately clean, food is adequate , especially given what these people have probably been living on, it is safe, and reasonably priced.
    The accommodations there also come with free legal services ( which they need plenty of) free English classes and free transportation to attend immigration hearings.
    As many conservatives have pointed out, more people are moving out of MA. than moving in, and many of them are moving to Florida. I honestly wish to thank Governor Desantos for taking in our retirees and elderly population so they can bask in the sun and enjoy all the services offered to elderly populations in their sunset years.
    I also wish to thank him for investing in the future of Ma. by paying transportation cost for young , hard working motivated people to realize the American dream.
    I cannot think of a better way to vett future citizens than to have them endure all they have to get here. They are motivated, they are strong, they are honest, they are smart.
    Proof in the pudding that they got here.
    In fact about 3000 more people moved out of MA, than in last year.
    Most of those who moved out were retired.
    Gov Decovid– send more please— we need them .

    • Agreed. There is strength in diversity and cooperation. There is nothing a white supremacist hates more than that. Once you’ve taken away their specialness, they throw a huge tantrum. They set the world on fire, they murder, they run people over with their cars etc. Millenials and Gen Z aren’t having kids. It’s because of the adverse economy that conservatives created through deregulation, and the world being on fire. I could think of plenty of other, more immediate threats we should be addressing than the border crisis- school shootings and public massacres, to name one. Nothing down in South America (or any American continent) has been right ever since colonization began, and the disease of colonization has continued and progressed ever since. After destabilization, deterioration is to be expected. Hence the border crisis. Why can’t conservatives see that? The root of this problem is the cruelty of white supremacy. The solution is for them to call out the racists in their party and hold them accountable. However, they can’t call out what they can’t see. And they can’t see until they ponder, which they won’t, because it will make their brains hurt. So the lies and self-deceptions will continue.

  4. In terms of dishonest media coverage and public reaction, this was always gonna be a no-win situation for the Island. By design.

    The Daily Wire, for one, has proven that repeatedly since the story broke. They have a smear campaign to run, and no amount of annoying truth shall interfere. Ben Shapiro is famous for saying that facts don’t care about your feelings, yet he’s built his company around stirring emotion. Michael Knowles is no different, and so on.

    If politicians or celebrities were to offer up their Vineyard homes, the screaming about virtue signaling would never cease. Critics can claim that’s what they wanted to see happen here—they didn’t. Those people despise that kind of gesture. I can hear the objections now. “Woke! Elitist!”

    If summer residents got together and volunteered their empty properties for use, the media would suddenly become wise to the fact that MV is suffering from a housing crisis—an issue that has been ignored by most outlets.

    Then the canned replies would change to, “Ohhhhhhh, I see. So Islanders care more about people from a foreign country than their own neighbors in need?”

    The catch being, of course, that those commenters and personas don’t seem to care about local struggles at all. It’s a game.

    And if an Island hotel were to host this group for the foreseeable future, especially after word got out that Joint Base Cape Cod was an option, we’d end up being accused of anti-military sentiment. “Soooooo dorms are okay for our finest men and women, but migrants are too good for that kind of facility? They need something fancy instead? Out of touch! Champagne taste!”

    The script adapts. And yet, somehow, the script is always the same. You can’t beat it because it’s rigged. Wouldn’t surprise me if they had this flying banner ready to go before the migrants got here.

    Our Republican governor made a sound decision. He picked a secure location with access to medical and legal help. One where families can room together. He chose efficiency and procedure over optics, which is his job.

    The official who did the proper thing is now the target of paranoia—”who called him and pulled the $tring$?”, some say—while the Florida guy who was deceitful to the point of alleged criminality is painted as a hero.

    This is why we often end up with trash for results. We are a country that cares more about winning the so-called culture war than rewarding solutions. Than striving for outcomes that balance a multitude of needs. That is hard enough without adding cheap tricks into the mix.

    The border needs work. Lies and stunts won’t accomplish that. They only detract from any legit concerns.

  5. I wonder if the citizen mooches, the ones who entitle themselves to “free” stuff like newspapers that cost money and time to provide the invaluable service to the community, are the same idiots who carry on about empty houses? Whatever George Brennan is paid to do this for us, it’s not enough. Pay for the stuff you use, especially where you want to leave your droppings. Or get the hell out of here. Islanders support the island essentials, including this newspaper.

  6. Yup! Here we go again! Stir it up! Keep that hatred intact! How about another Derschowits story! Bless you all! You need it!!! When you go off island remember to not brag you are from the Vineyard. Well done everyone!

  7. Robert, Mary, Don and Mathias are right on the money!

    My opinion on this singular fiasco is that DeSantis, Abbot, and the guy from Arizona wanted to have a political moment…their 15 minutes of fame, and chose the Vineyard for our reputation of being elite.

    They don’t care that at least 2/3’s
    ( and maybe now 3/4 of the Island population) of our year round population hold two, and sometimes three jobs, shop for their clothes and other necessities at the various thrift shops and the ”Dumptique”, get there food from food pantries, and look for overnight shelters such as the now much publicized St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in the RICH (… tongue in cheek sarcasm here) town.

    The Island showed you, however, that we share what we have with compassion, and live up to the creed “do unto others as you would have done unto you “!!!

  8. Apparently we are not suppose to care about laws anymore. Can we all agree they broke the law by coming here by crossing a border without being invited. There has been established laws on the books to come here legally but we must of lost those books. As an over taxed taxpayer I am disgusted by how much so called free stuff these people are getting by trespassing. It can not go on for ever as there are only so many taxpayers like me to allow you to keep giving away free stuff. The woke island may sing a different song if we had 1,000 a day land here day after day after day.

    • No one is saying there isn’t a legal component to this complex issue, just that it isn’t the whole ball of wax. Also, I do not think we can agree that they broke the law simply by crossing the border because laws around application for asylum are complicated. Beyond that, I have several questions. What makes this a crisis, exactly? What effects, specifically, is this having on American citizens? Are people losing their jobs? Their housing? Are states having their budgets significantly impacted? How badly is it impacting the country? And how are you “overtaxed?” Why aren’t the immigrants being allowed to work and pay taxes to offset the costs of enforcing immigration law? I haven’t seen any conservatives outlining exactly what the problem is beyond “they broke the law.” Every time I ask, that’s the response I get- that, and “ThEy’Re IlLeGaL!!” There is NO elaboration beyond that, and it infuriates me. When that’s all I hear over and over again, I am forced to chalk this up to racism and white supremacy. What else could it be? I don’t care if racists and white supremacists are impacted by this issue. I care about everyone else. The buzz-words of “rapists” and “murderers” is old and tired. There are many times more American citizens committing those crimes already. Mass shootings is just ONE of the forms that takes. The case of Brock Turner demonstrates white, male privilege, as does every case of mass shootings by whites. I don’t see mass shootings being committed by undocumented immigrants. Surely Fox or the Wahington Examiner would be all over it if it were happening. I want to know how this crisis impacts the border towns, and how it affects me. How much money am I losing? How is the quality of my life being impacted? Would anyone care to explain? How do I suffer from this? Fifty migrants were dropped off on MV. I haven’t had an interaction with a single one of them. The negative impacts I have suffered from that occurring have only been receiving harassing phone calls from Texans and South Carolinians- people I have absolutely no connection to- who want to “own the libs.” Seems like they are the problem here. I have worked for everything I have, and have always had a job from fourteen years of age. I have never taken a government hand-out (aside from covid relief checks that I did not ask or apply for). And while I struggle because of rising costs of living, that has nothing to do with immigration. I’m frustrated because all I see is a lot of finger-pointing, while the border crisis’s impact on society isn’t being discussed by the Conservatives who are complaining, and it is difficult for me to understand how it impacts them or me, or why I should care. Let’s talk about that, and then let’s talk about how we can address it.

    • They couldn’t handle 50, and they are more than capable of handling that amount. Martha’s vineyards full of liberal Democrat hypocrites and trashy Biden supporters. The only migrants they like are the ones that cut their grass or take out their trash.

    • Spot on! But you are one of those hateful, racist, white supremacists no doubt! Texas, Az, Fl have been taking in thousands upon thousands over 2 million since Biden took office and with Kamala in charge! Five O arrive and are shown the door as quickly as possible! But you go ahead and pat yourselves on the back and deflect the fact that you did 76 hours of what the border has done every single minute of every single day and in the middle of the night for years and years! Do your fair share isn’t that your montra? I am 63 not a racist btw and visit the island 3-4 times a year but when I see people being called racist because they see an overrun insecure border; it’s worrying! You don’t see this as an important issue to our country until you are slapped in the face with the realities the south deals with! People have died because of illegal immigration! You do know about fentanyl and the 300 young deaths in a day because of the drugs coming in! Care about that maybe? No, you are more worried about being called hypocrites and your caring image!

  9. What a disaster this president is! The illegals flown to the Vineyard is just another example of the weakness of the biden/harris administration. Anarchy at our Southern border is a national crisis liberals and progressives refuse to address. Buden swore ro enforce our laws and borders…time for him to go! Impeach niw!

    • Amen Biden needs to be impeached for bypassing Congress and not securing our border. He is filth, so are any Democrats who support him.

    • LMAO! Biden administration apprehended and turned away more than 3 million people trying to illegally enter the country in 2021 & 2022. More than Trump did!

  10. I wonder why some people just refuse to comprehend the fact that every one of these people are LEGALLY in this country.
    Right wing haters and racists insist on calling these people “illegal”, which is not the case.
    But it feeds the hate.
    It feeds the false narrative that these people have done something wrong.
    They haven’t. They have followed the laws of this country, as has President Biden.
    Of course, some people will disregard the law if it doesn’t fit their narrative, or their sense of entitlement.
    Even while accusing law abiding people of somehow breaking the law.

  11. 2.1 million came in to this country illegally since January 2021. This is because of Biden’s open border policy.

    This blog is a good example how Biden brought this country together, Dems and Republicans, like he said he would do on Inauguration Day 2021. I guess he forgot what was on the teleprompter during that speech. What a joke.

  12. I am proud that my Matha’s Vineyard community was welcoming and rallied to support the immigrants from Venezuela. It is just awful how right wing radicals work so hard at spewing lies and stirring divisiveness. Thank you, fellow Vineyarders for reminding me why I chose this Island for my home and for speaking so eloquently and passionately in our defense!

    • What specific lies are people spreading? All I read are comments about your community appearing on national tv saying “obviously, these people are going to have to leave”.

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