National Guard activated to assist migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by DeSantis

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said his administration plans to activate up to 125 members of the state’s National Guard as part of a relief effort

Johanna Chisholm
Friday 16 September 2022 16:10 BST
'Just plain wrong': White House condemns migrant flight to Martha's Vineyard

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced he plans to activate the National Guard, among the relief efforts his administration is supplying for the 50 migrants who were flown into Martha’s Vineyard under Governor Ron DeSantis’s controversial relocation program.

“The island communities are not equipped to provide sustainable accommodation, and state officials developed a plan to deliver a comprehensive humanitarian response,” said the governor’s office in a statement released Friday.

The Republican governor outlined the state’s plans for the recently arrived migrants from the southern border, who were dropped on the popular vacation island on Wednesday afternoon without prior notice being given to elected officials. The release detailed the several state and local agencies that would be supporting the newly arrived people at Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC).

“Our Administration has been working across state government to develop a plan to ensure these individuals will have access to the services they need going forward, and Joint Base Cape Cod is well equipped to serve these needs,” said Gov Baker.

The effort is being overseen by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and in addition to other state and local agencies, he said that he “plans to activate up to 125 members of the Massachusetts National Guard as part of this relief effort.”

The JBCC has the infrastructure in place to accommodate the migrants, the governor’s release noted, citing how it was once used to house displaced people fleeing from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina touched down in 2005 and more recently was relied upon by residents as an alternative medical site during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Transportation to the base will be covered by the Commonwealth, the statement notes, but moving to the temporary shelter will be done on a voluntary basis.

At the base, migrants will be able to access legal services that are not available on the small island community, the statement said, and they will also be provided with essential healthcare services for those who need it.

“We will continue to work with officials at all levels of government to make sure everyone has access to the appropriate resources,” Lt Governor Karyn Polito said.

When migrants arrived on the Massachusetts island on Wednesday, both elected officials and the travellers were caught by surprise as the migrants had been told before boarding the plane from the country’s southern border that they’d be taken to Boston. Local officials were given no warning that two planes would touch down in a small town with limited legal and immigration services.

The Florida governor took credit for sending the flights north on Wednesday, sharing in an exclusive statement with Fox News Digital that it was part of his government’s “relocation program”.

“Yes, Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” the governor’s communications director, Taryn Fenske, told the right-wing news organisation.

“States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivising illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden Administration’s open border policies.”

Gov DeSantis isn’t alone in staging what the White House and critics have called a dangerous political stunt.

Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have been sending busloads of migrants to Washington DC since the springtime. And as recently as Thursday, the Texas governor authorised two buses to park outside of vice president Kamala Harris’ home in the nation’s capital.

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