Some migrants move on

‘I just couldn’t be prouder to represent Martha’s Vineyard,’ Fernandes says.

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Attorney Rachel Self, seen here near one of the buses on Friday, has been working to help them with immigration issues. -Rich Saltzberg

Updated 5:22pm

Migrants who were transported unwittingly to Martha’s Vineyard and then relocated to Joint Base Cape Cod have been free to come and go from the military base. Edgartown attorney Rachel Self, who has worked on behalf of the migrants, said some have taken trips to places like the Cape Cod Mall and two of them left on Sunday for New York City where they hope to establish their new lives. One migrant appears to have departed prior to the bus trip off-Island, according to state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth

“It’s been made very clear to them that they can leave and go anywhere they want at any time,” Fernandes said. 

As far as what’s next for the majority still at the base, Fernandes said that depends. 

“It’s up to everyone’s individual immigrant status and they’re working through that with their attorneys,” he said. He added what caseworkers are able to assist regarding housing and school also factors in. 

“And then it’s also up to what they want to do,” Fernandes said. 

“I expect you’re going to see a number of these individuals and families try to figure out the next steps of their lives,” state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, said. “Many of them actually had plans to travel from San Antonio to locations all across the county.”

Cyr said he spoke with one individual at the base on Monday who planned to go to Salt Lake City, Utah, because a friend was there. He learned another person planned to go to Seattle, Washington. 

“Very importantly, all of these people are known to federal immigration authorities,” Cyr said. “They had reported to border authorities in claiming asylum. These are largely Venuzualans who are fleeing a brutal communist dictatorship. So they are not in violation of federal law.”

Self said housing at the base is available for up to three months but none of the migrants, that she’s aware of, are entertaining staying there.

“Everybody just wants to get started with their life,” she said. 

Fernandes said the state’s federal delegation was helpful in supplying status extensions and flexibility to the group. In particular, Fernandes said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, spoke with the director of Homeland Security to assist in the matter. 

Self said a few of the folks from the group “really bonded” with some Islanders and have expressed interest in returning to the Vineyard. Self said they also have formed a community among themselves.

“You know when you’re victimized and you’re around people who you were victimized with, it does form a sense of community and they really have bonded with each other. And so a lot of them want to stay in contact with each other and they also want to be a part of the Venuzualian community here in Massachusetts.”

The plight of the migrants has whipped up hateful rhetoric and a number of Vineyard businesses have been the recipients of crank callers. 

Cyr said his office has received some “pretty nasty correspondence” and one in particular that was threatening and subsequently relayed to law enforcement.

Cyr saw it as a reflection of “the nastiness we see in national politics” and those politics, for the time being “have come to Martha’s Vineyard.”

Cyr characterized the ugly calls and the recent plane towed banner as “cowardly acts”. 

Cyr went on to say “most decent Americans” are unswayed by bullies like DeSantis or “trolls” at home on their computer or phone. 

“I don’t know when helping human beings became a controversial thing in this country,” Fernades said. He added, trolls are “not something that’s occupying my time or my mind.” 

Fernandes said there’s clear right and wrong in the situation and he’s sided with the right side and the Cape and Islands community “overwhelming” support that position — ”treating human beings with basic humanity.”

“I think the best response we can give to that kind of hate,” Cyr said, “is first and foremost to keep our eye focused on helping these vulnerable families and other new arrivals in Massachusetts…and for Islanders to keep doing exactly what we’re doing — to celebrate and honor the extraordinary and passionate response where Islanders welcomed these new arrivals [and] treated them with dignity and respect.” 

“I just couldn’t be prouder to represent Martha’s Vineyard,” Fernandes said. “So many people from across the Island pitched in to help out and it was just really moving to see.”

Fernandes added, “I think the Vineyard showed the country what treating people with dignity and compassion looks like and sadly I think this country, or at least part of it, definitely needs a reminder of what that looks like.”

Updated to correct an attribution. 

15 COMMENTS

  1. I am so happy to hear that these oppressed people managed to make it to Texas.
    And because Texas is so overwhelmed with all the people coming across the borders, and do not have nearly enough resources to treat them all as they deserve to be treated, and cannot possibly offer them all the kind of lives they are seeking, I therefore am deeply grateful to the Texas Governor, and to that compassionate woman who helped set up their journey and get the funding for it, to help give them the opportunity to get infinitely better treatment elsewhere, and help to set up their new lives.
    To me, that woman is a HERO, who deserves our highest gratitude! – I am utterly disgusted with those who saw her as a “kidnapper”, a “criminal” who is now being hunted, to be caught, prosecuted and locked up for a long time.
    I don’t remember whom among you expressed such vile and unethical hatred, but I must say I am ashamed of you, and I hope you are too. Yes, really.
    Imagine yourself in their situation – would you rather stay in a run down overcrowded shelter among total strangers, or would you rather go with the invitation to fly you and your whole group of families and friends, free of charge, to a place further north that is a known and self-declared immigrant sanctuary? Which would you choose??
    Their helpers in Texas knew enough about the Vineyard to trust that the people here would take very good care of them when they arrived. And the Vineyard stepped right in as soon as they landed here, and did the right thing for these suffering people.
    And then the State joined, and transported them to Otis Airforce Base on Cape Cod, and provided them all with a safe and comfortable place to stay, with free food and everything they need, and the help to then get to the various places where they would like to the go and settle.
    When you fly over America, you realize the enormous amount of space there still is available.
    I recommend that the Feds and the State buy many small pieces of some of those vast acres, near rural towns and industries that can offer jobs, and help them create their own small communities by providing them with everything they need to get started, like free building materials, help and guidance – and, of course, it would all be totally solar-green, non-polluting and near-zero fossil-fuels and Co2. They would soon earn enough money to pay for the rent required to cover the government (our) investment.
    And the same must also be provided to all destitute American, especially to all Native Americans who had everything ripped away from them, and to all those who came here as slaves, stolen away from their homes and inheritance.

  2. Undocumented, unaccounted for and doing god knows what. Hopefully, sincerely and legitimately looking for a better life and chance to contribute. Sadly, it only takes a minute amount of common sense to understand that while most of them are sincere in their intentions, some are not. And the fact that they can just run free without any real identification is abhorrent and scary.

    • That sounds exactly like the Americans who were convinced, with zero evidence, that a handful of Jewish asylum seekers trying to escape Nazis were in fact spies for the Germans (they were not)– and that was the reason to keep all Jews out.

      • It’s difficult to convince xenophobic racists that their ideological beliefs are not true. Certainly, throwing facts at them is like throwing pearls to swine.
        They do not learn from history, and are therefore doomed to repeat it.
        Tragedies can be averted.
        In 1939 245 people wound up dying as a result Of Cuba’s , America’s and Canada’s xenophobic anti semitism.
        https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ss-st-louis-jewish-refugees-turned-away-holocaust

        Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
        Draconian policies like forcing people into squalid camps on the Mexican side of the border have likely lead to many deaths, but we don’t hear about them. Certainly, some don’t care. We certainly can’t blame Mexico for iot– they went broke paying for the border wall, after all.
        Over on fox news today, I saw one person suggest we set up machine guns on the border– another said ” time to solve the immigration problem with lead “

      • That, right there, is the real issue. And they’ll let your kids die in a school shooting, fighting against any reasonable measures to mitigate the problem of guns getting into the hands of those who are likely to do unnecessary harm to themselves and/or others, a.k.a. people who shouldn’t have them. How many “illegals” make up the percentage of mass shootings and other violent crimes? What percentage of rapes are they committing? Someone must know, if they’re so worried about “the illegals.” Surely they have good reason to be concerned. Weird that they’re not sharing that data with their fellow Americans or trying to help them understand what’s going on. They said the “illegals” were violent criminals and rapists, so it must be true, right?

        • I remember in 2015, a truly illegal person, had a gun and killed a woman in San Francisco. Fox ran it every day for months. They were on it like they are about Hunter Biden now.
          Prosecutors charged him with murder one.
          When he was acquitted, partially based on the fact that the bullet that hit the woman had ricocheted off a sidewalk before striking her, the MAGA heads exploded.
          No matter that it was clearly accidental, he was “illegal”.
          He was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
          That should be enough for the MAGA world to be concerned.

          • I imagine the gun-toting fruit-loops didn’t even care that he was able to acquire a gun, just that he was here illegally.

    • They are not undocumented. They are following the law and are in the country legally. The USA has an asylum process and these refugees are in it. You don’t know what you’re talking about or you’re being willfully ignorant.

    • Most Islanders are sincere in their intentions, some are not.
      This is America, we are not required to carry identification.
      We are not a Communist country.

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