Coming to Martha’s Vineyard?

Media portrayal of Vineyard ‘lacks curiosity.’

Larkin Stallings takes a selfie with Jackie Stallings and the group of migrants visiting the Island from Joint Base Cape Cod. — Courtesy Larkin Stallings

Since 50 Venezuelan migrants landed on Martha’s Vineyard in a plane chartered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and later left for Joint Base Cape Cod, the Island has wondered where they’ve gone, and what’s next for them. 

According to Larkin Stallings, a Martha’s Vineyard Community Services board member and Vineyard business owner who is one of many who stepped up as a volunteer, most of those folks are still at the base, and some are hoping to eventually relocate to the Vineyard. 

Stallings told The Times that he and his wife Jackie visited with the Venezuelan migrants at the base on Sept. 21, and later enjoyed time on the Vineyard with four of those folks on Sunday.

“There was an extremely warm welcome when we got to the JBCC,” Stallings said. The general consensus from all he spoke with was “they were so appreciative of the Vineyard — really enjoyed their time with us, and all of them look forward to coming back to visit soon.”

Stallings said the migrants had good accommodations and food provided to them at Joint Base Cape Cod, with their own rooms — something that couldn’t be provided for them at St. Andrew’s.

Stallings said some of them “absolutely” want to make the Vineyard their home. “There’s a handful of them who would really like to relocate,” he said. The desire is tempered with the reality of the lack of housing, but also that there’s ample work, he said. He also said they are coming to grips with the notions of cold weather and snow. 

“Some may opt for easier places to live and work, like, say, Boston where public transportation is easier, or the suburbs of Boston, et cetera,” he said. 

Stallings said the four folks who came over from the base are family members. After they called from a ferry, he picked them up at the Steamship Authority terminal in Oak Bluffs and enjoyed dinner with them at his home along with his wife. Later they all went to church, he said. “It was great to see them,” he said. “A lot of hugging and crying.” 

Edgartown attorney Rachel Self, who along with a team of lawyers has been assisting the migrants, said, “We are proud to announce that everyone has pro bono representation.” Self said to her knowledge, only two or three have departed so far. She also said folks have come forward from across the country with offers of transportation and lodging.

Self said she is “actively involved” in the criminal probe underway in Texas. Self limited her remarks on the subject to, “The investigation remains ongoing.”


Press portrayal

The migrant’s plight has seen heavy press coverage. That coverage has largely referred to the Vineyard as a realm of affluence. Some outlets also claimed the Vineyard lacked diversity.

State Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, criticized those portrayals as inaccurate. Cyr told The Times he and his colleague, state Rep. Dylan Fernandes D-Falmouth, make it a point when speaking with national press to point out the Vineyard’s median income is $40,000 per year. Also, Cyr said, “how one in four students in Martha’s Vineyard Schools speaks a language other than English at home, how one in four students are students of color — many of them the children of immigrants.”

Cyr also said he tried to convey how half of Islanders make their living through hospitality or trades work. Like Nantucket and Cape Cod, the Vineyard has a reputation based on “who visits,” like presidents, he said.

Cyr said the stigma of poshness can be found at the state level too. “I’m always pointing out to my colleagues the hurdles of what it means to make a life on an island, or at Lands End — you know, whether it be access to medical care, whether it be access to public services, whether it be the ups and downs of our cyclical economy.”

Cyr went on to say, “It’s an uphill battle based on perceptions and an agenda, and clearly Martha’s Vineyard was targeted in this political stunt because the perpetrators knew it would get maximum attention. I think they clearly failed. I think part of the aim of the stunt was to just show the hypocrisy of liberal people, coastal people in Massachusetts. I think that clearly failed. The response was rather remarkable … but unsurprising to me or anybody who knew this region well.”

Stallings described the media’s descriptions of the Vineyard as both “funny and sad.” He said, “To quote Ted Lasso, ‘They lacked curiosity.’ You know, if they took one minute to simply look — Google it. This is an insanely diverse population.”

Stallings said the portrayal of the Island and “who the people on the ground doing the work [are]” was off target. All those volunteers, he said, have other jobs.

“The fact that they think that we’re elite and rich and stuff like that, I mean, that’s hilarious,” he said. “That fact that they’re not curious enough to actually look — that they would rather paint us with one broad brush based on some of our summer residents, that’s just silly. That would be like me saying of Florida because I see one funny article about a ‘Florida man’ — that I would paint Florida with the entire brush of a funny article I read about a Florida man. That’s silly. Florida, like [here], is far more interesting and diverse than one swath of Floridians.”


  1. The only article on the subject of our migrant visitors I’ve read in a non-Island publication that fairly and accurately describes reality on the Island is in The New Yorker (Oct. 3 issue). I was delighted to see it after all the hoopla about us being an elite enclave of super-rich White liberals. Even the Boston Globe! I’ve spent hours responding to emails from friends and relatives refuting allegations of ‘illegal’ migrants being instantly ‘deported’ from our exclusive environs.

  2. Leave it to The New Yorker to tell this story correctly. As they did with all of Alan Dershowitz’s whining. That’s why I’ve been a subscriber for 40 years.

  3. Last week one of the conservative commentators here posted this on the story “The island moved in a powerful way” ;

    “Some of the migrants wanted to stay here. Why did you kick them out after 2 whole days!”

    I think that’s a question .
    I will try to answer that question with a question. I’ve learned to do that by watching fox “news”.
    How many island residents do you think are here who arrived on the island without knowing anything about it, did not know anyone here, had no money, didn’t speak the language and took up permanent residency within 48 hours ?
    Just asking.
    Some things take time, you know.

  4. Idea: for Larkin and Jackie Stallings and everyone else incensed by DeSantis’s hateful stunt

    In the wake of Storm Ian, wouldn’t it be great and headline grabbing for the people of Martha’s Vineyard collectively to come to Florida’s aid in some way?

    • I hope that the people who live on this island would not resort to political stunts.
      we pay federal taxes.
      We overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden, who has declared a federal emergency and has quickly put the full resources of the federal government to the task of helping the people of Florida. That despite the fact that as a majority the people of Florida deny that this storm was made worse by climate change, refuse to recognize the right of people to choose whether to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, who to marry,and what public bathroom you choose to use, as well as actively ban books in the school systems.
      I think we have contributed enough, thank you.
      If you want to personally contribute, you can donate cash to
      Or perhaps you can send a few rolls of paper towels to any town office.

      • DeSantis voted against hurricane Sandy relief. Floridians will get the country’s help after Ian’s destruction … because they should, despite having elected such a morally deficient governor.

      • Biden is in serious cognitive decline and the American people all know he is unable to do his job. It doesnt take a Neurologist to see this fact.

        • Oh engelman. And yet he’s still doing a good job without having incited an insurrection, without suggesting people inject bleach to prevent covid, and without conning millions of gullible idiots into thinking that a free and fair election was stolen. And he was able NOT to do these democracy-destroying behaviors without anyone coming to his defense by blabbering he’s been chosen by their god. I’ll take Biden a million times over the racist, antisemitic, moronic, intellectually incurious con artist, Trump, who never read a book in his life but still claims he knew more than generals, scientists, and doctors. People who have no intellectual curiosity, about any subject, including places in the news and the people who live there, are idiots. People who think the island is as Faux News portrays it are either gullible fools or liars, or both.

          • Yes Biden is doing a good job on gas prices, stock market, violence and theft, borders, inflation, 401k’s, energy independence and lots of other things. Lets keep a dementia patient rather than one who hurts our feelings.

        • I’d rather have this “dementia patient” over the narcissistic sociopath who preceded him (it doesn’t take a psychologist to see this fact…)

        • Engelman, switchtracking is a good word. Thank you for providing us with an excellent example of it and how to do it. Claiming the President has dementia under an article about how the media has misrepresented the island during DeSantis’s immoral stunt is exactly how to switchtrack. Any other projections of your own conduct onto someone else?

    • I would like to remind the DeSantis fans (who have probably never been here) that one of the first votes he cast when he was elected to Congress was against a $9.7 billion relief package for victims of hurricane Sandy.
      For those who have short memories, Sandy’s greatest impact was in the Northeast US.

      • What you didnt tell us is that the Sandy package that De Santis voted for was, one in which only 30 percent of it was going to be spent in the first two years. It appropriated money out to 2020 and 2021, things that could not in any way be said to be emergency spending. It had all sorts of foolishness in it that in no way helped people.

  5. I like that the Vineyard did so much for them. But many people would love to make the Vineyard their home. I didn’t realize it would be so easy if your an immigrant. Sorry, they should have the same advantages as anyone else. Which means it is slim and none that they can afford ever to live there.

  6. I thought Michelle Norris in the Washington Post and Bob Drogin in the LA Times did a fine job, even better than The New Yorker in ths case–probably because they are part of our community.

  7. That’s shameful you know what you did was
    wrong and worse of it it all you do try to send blame somewhere else.Desantis, Trump,Texas
    Governor , and all the patriotic people who tell it how it is.Everyone enjoy it while it lasts because your way of life is being threatened
    by all you people who want open borders.Believe me I lived on the border for many years and unless something drastic changes there this country will be raped of it’s beauty of people that come just to drain that beauty and it hurts to see people are so blind of this.I honestly love this country and it’s the best country of all countries.lest keep it that way

    • I didn’t realize that the migrants were the ones trying to drill for oil and stripmine in our most beautiful national parks and monuments or build huge pipelines across our most sensitive ecosystems.
      As far as the U.S being the best country of all countries, you will not find the U.S ranked at the top of any reliable statistical analyses about quality of life.
      While different studies vary a bit because of the different criteria they use, most put the U.S between 15th and 20th.
      I love this country also. I really would never want to live anywhere else.
      Generations of migrants have made it what it is– strong, successful, inclusive, and beautiful.
      Future generations of migrants will keep it that way.

  8. Liberals on MV dont know the difference between ”de jure” and ”defacto”. The border is defacto open and everyone but liberals know it. Dems love to claim a technicality that there is no government policy of open borders. That claim helps no-one an dis absurd on its face.

    • Thanks once again for telling us what a certain group of people think or know, and what those people “love to claim”. Even better that everyone else knows whatever it is but them.

      I keep asking why people risk their lives swimming across the river, hiking through the deserts, etc rather than just walk up to the open border.
      I have asked no less than 4 times. I am getting tired of asking it, and “everyone” is getting tired of me asking it. Why don’t I get an answer ?
      I think it’s because everybody but a few brainwashed xenophobes knows that it’s not open.
      And those brainwashed xenophobes don’t have an answer.
      The fact that so many people are dying trying to cross the border makes the idea that the border is “open” tautologically incorrect.
      If I am wrong, just answer the question in a rational way, and we can have a rational discussion.

      • Tautology is saying the same thing twice with different words like ”that bachelor is single”. Your open border is not a tautology. As for Xenophobes, those are people who dont like migrants. Everyone posting here against illegal immigrations is grateful this country was developed with immigration and has no fear of migrants. Reasonable people know that illegal immigration is not sustainable. If the US has 12million illegals then defacto we have an open border. Not all illegals can just walk in but many can. Your logic suggests that people cant be crossing on a red light because a red light says stop. Does that answer you?

        • No actually– I stand by my use of tautological–
          “The border is open — anyone can cross it –tautologically correct
          “The border is open, – you can’t cross it ” –tautologically incorrect
          You can do better than that silly analogy about a red light.

          The problem is what constitutes an “illegal” ?
          I will follow your lead, and say that conservatives consider anyone who does not have a green card to be “illegal”. And maybe even then.
          Everyone except a few narrow minded xenophobes knows that
          Just look on the comments on this forum and look at how many times those 50 people who arrived on the Vineyard last month were referred to as “illegals”.
          Every single one of them was in this country legally, but most conservatives can’t accept that truth.
          That’s why “a lot of people” refer to the republican party as “the party of liars” — everyone knows that but them.
          It wasn’t a democrat that stood in front of the cameras with a straight face and coined the phrase “alternative facts” after all.
          Or maybe it was– Maybe Obama said that, or HILLARY !! or maybe that was on Hunter Biden’s’ laptop. … Hmmmmm that was so long ago–

          • You are so correct, Don. The legal migrants are called “illegal” over and over. People who are terribly insane do not know they are insane. People who are terribly stupid also do not know. (I used to be friendly with someone who turned out to be a QAnon cultist. She isn’t crazy, but she is extraoridinarily stupid and loud about it– that part of her was always obvious. She is so stupid and uneducated she thinks she knows more than the smartest people on the planet, thinking that watching idiots on YouTube videos has educated her.) Most dishonest people do not consider themselves dishonest. They have a whole system of justifying their dishonesty, including why they cheat on taxes, steal from their aging grandpa, or tell people a dangerous pandemic is just a flu. The more narcisistic one is, the easier it is to make exceptions for oneself and be a hypocrite. Conservatives do not reailze they are liars, even the smarter ones. This all reminds me of an old “Twilight Zone” episode where people with what we consider deformed faces were horrified by what we consider beauty.


            It all depends on who is in charge, who wants to be in charge, and what one will do to get there and make enemies of people who disagree. Have you read Trump’s rants against Mitch McConnell? It would be funny if half the country understood that Trump’s “McConnell has a death wish” is a call to more violence from the MAGAts.

          • Keller, lots of people live here without a green card. The number of visa options are too numerous to count. Not all people who live here without a green card are illegals. Jump in reasoning. Now the argument has devolved into small technicalities when everyone knows we have a huge border problem and more than 2 mm have entered illegally since Sleepy Joe became President. Ok 50 people were legal. So what? Is it possible MV has 50 people illegal living here? I think so.

          • Switchtracking is another word I will introduce to this site as I did tautology. Changing the subject one doesnt like and focusing on irrelevant concepts to the main theme. 50 are not illegal, conservatives are liars, everyone but me is an idiot. Liberals are great at switchtracking when they dont want something to be true even if it is.

          • Andy, How do we know that over 2 million people have entered the country illegally since PRESIDENT Biden assumed office ? Perhaps they get that number from all the people who go to the welfare office and say “I’m illegal— give me everything I want — Tucker Carlson said that was the way it works in America , so I believed him and tried to cross the border legally, but was turned away, so I climbed over that silly wall that Mexico paid for and now I want some steak and lobster to go with my free beer”.
            Fox news said it enough times that people believed it.
            So if you want to blame someone for encouraging illegal immigration, blame fox “news” and their millionaire talking heads.

            You statistic, is questionable since there is no real way to verify it. It is also generated in a vacuum if not compared to how many entered the country in preceding years.
            Personally, I think 4 million “illegals” came into this county in 2019, before the pandemic slowed everything down.
            I calculate that number based on all the “caravans” filled with thousands of people coming across Mexico as reported on fox news. What happened to all those hordes of dangerous children that fox was fear mongering about every day?

        • Mr Engleman you are only half right about tautology and therefore wrong about Mr. Kellers use of tautologically. Tautology has 2 definitions. The other one has to do with logic. In logic, a tautological statement is “a statement that is true by virtue of its logical form alone.” (Miriam Webster dictionary)

  9. Don’t like it?
    Buhbye we won’t miss you guys.
    We like diversity.
    PS.. you really should read up on who the criminals are, how they get here.
    You are unfortunately easily tricked by the “entertainment guy ” on faux news who thinks he is a news reporter 😀.

  10. There he goes again. It ain’t 2 million. Maybe it’s 1.9 million. Maybe it’s zero. Everyone knows it’s a large number but to try to diffuse the subject one concentrates on precision rather than accuracy. The border is open. No it isn’t. Switchtracking has been made famous by two people on this site. Fox News. Orange Man. DeSantis caused the hurricane. Right wing evangelicals are the bane of society.

    • Maybe it’s less than when the orange one was involved. Who knows ? You throw unsubstantiated statistics around and claim things like the border is open and then twist the narrative when someone calls you on your nonsense.
      Here are some facts–
      Fox encouraged people to flee corrupt and destitute countries by telling them the border was open and they could get all the benefits, if not more than American citizens are entitled to.
      Do you dispute that ? YES or NO ?
      Did any official within the Biden administration ever say anything like that ?
      YES or NO ?
      Did anyone on either side of the political spectrum say that Desantos “caused the hurricane”?
      YES or NO ?
      It is debatable as to whether right wing evangelicals are the “bane of society”, but they certainly do not represent the values of our secular democracy, and seem to be amongst those who think violence is the answer to our problems.
      Are you once again obliquely trying to tell us what those who disagree with you are thinking or saying ?
      You might gain a little credibility if you just stuck to the facts and what people actually say rather than present an ideologically driven conjecture as fact.

  11. What the commenters about the coverage in The New Yorker missed was the substantial Brazilian population that does indeed indeed help diversify the island and, yes, some of whom are making use of the sanctuary policies of the law on Martha’s Vineyard. The latter is reality, whatever the politics of those reading.

    What Jelani Cobb overlooked in expressing his perspective of Martha’s Vineyard as a not-so-elite-and-liberal island was that his example of representation of the Black population throughout is elite. The names he ticked off included a former president, a senator, Martin Luther King Jr. and Dorothy West. Elsewhere he mentions the current vice president (although not as someone who visits or lives here). Hardly your average summer or year-round islander. What was his point? Other than that the Island is equal opportunity elite?

    The omission of our Brazilian population appears egregious and, would point to the fact that we are, in fact, a sanctuary community already. Unless it’s understood otherwise, a community that does not prosecute or deport residents who undocumented is what proof Jelani Cobb could have done better explaining to readers.

    I agree with another Geraldine, the writers who actually live her get these things better. Mr. Cobb could surely fill the CCC orthe Hebrew Center series – I myself would go if a ticket was offered – but he missed a major opportunity to tell it like it is better.

    This island is an easy target. The perception of the world of Martha’s Vineyard as a community is inaccurate, but the stereotype that it is a playground of the elite is right. From Paul Singer to Larry David, it’s not a normal place. Why lie about it?

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