State exploring plans to house migrants on Cape Cod after they were flown to Martha’s Vineyard

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday announced that the state is exploring plans to house dozens of migrants at a military base on Cape Cod after they were unexpectedly flown to Martha’s Vineyard.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he sent two planes carrying about 50 migrants to the Vineyard on Wednesday in protest against the rise of illegal immigration and to draw attention to what Republican-led states consider to be the Biden administration’s failed border policies.

Baker said his administration is now working to ensure that the migrants who arrived in the Bay State have access to temporary shelter, possibly at Joint Base Cape Cod.

In a statement, a state spokesperson said, “The Commonwealth has many resources for assisting individuals that arrive in Massachusetts with varying immigration statuses and needs and is working with all partners involved to make sure those resources are available to the migrants that arrived last night. In addition, the Baker-Polito Administration is exploring setting up temporary shelter and humanitarian services at Joint Base Cape Cod and will share additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

DeSantis stated that he flew the migrants to the Vineyard because Florida is “not a sanctuary state.”

“If you have folks that are inclined to think Florida’s a good place, our message to them is we are not a sanctuary state and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction,” DeSantis explained. “We will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures.”

Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes represents Martha’s Vineyard as a Democrat and told Boston 25 that local officials had no idea the planes were landing until he received a phone call at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.

“The Martha’s vineyard that you see in pop culture is not what Martha’s vineyard is. This is an island community that is filled with immigrants,” said Fernandes.

Lisa Belcastro runs the shelter at St Andrews Church in Edgartown. She helped choreograph the outpouring of help and she says now the real work begins. “Talk to them and find out what their needs are. Find out if they had some medical needs. Whether they were separated from family or coming here to meet family,” said Belcastro.

Volunteers say they will do whatever it takes to make them feel welcome. “I was going to offer food, shelter, clothing whatever I could,” said a volunteer.

Rep. Fernandes says they are working with the state and federal leaders to make sure they have all the resources to continue helping these families.

Donations of clothing and everyday items may be dropped off via a Dropbox located at the Edgartown Fire/EMS Station at 68 Peases Point Way S, Edgartown, MA 02539.

Individuals looking for opportunities to make donations may visit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services’ website at www.mvcommunityservices.org/helpmigrants.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW