At a church housing immigrants on Martha’s Vineyard, immigrants cheered Friday morning when they heard the Massachusetts government was offering them shelter at a Cape Cod military base.
They embraced each other and locals before boarding buses provided by the state and local government.
A migrant aid volunteer was among those who hugged them and was in tears as they left.
“It was another person’s — a lot of people’s — very difficult time in their life, and they shared it with us with so much grace and affection and humor. And it’s a gift to be welcomed into their lives and into their hearts,” Lisa Belcastro said.
A group of civil rights lawyers working with immigrants called their stories “heartbreaking — and infuriating.” Many of the migrants went to the hospital in need of care upon their arrival on the island on Wednesday.
Some of these immigrants were sent to Martha’s Vineyard even though immigration hearings were scheduled nowhere near Massachusetts, the group said. Immigrants released from government custody often move to other cities in the United States as they pursue their immigration process.
“This cowardly political stunt has put our clients at risk,” the attorneys for civil rights said in a news release Friday. “Some now have immigration hearings thousands of miles away on Monday.”
Some lawyers from the group accompanied the migrants on buses to the Cape Cod site.
Awaiting help for migrants in Cape Cod
Joint Base Cape Cod — an emergency shelter already designated by the state emergency management agency — is set up to provide “safe temporary shelter appropriate to the needs of families and individuals,” the governor’s office said in a release.
Immigrants will be “housed dormitory-style at JBCC, with separate spaces to accommodate individuals and families,” and families will not be separated, the release said.
They will have access to services including legal, health care, food, hygiene kits and crisis counseling, according to Baker’s office.
Baker, a Republican, praised the temporary shelter set up by the Martha’s Vineyard community for immigrants in a “moment of urgent need.”
“We are grateful to the providers, volunteers and local officials who stepped up on Martha’s Vineyard over the past few days to provide immediate services to these individuals,” Baker said in a news release.
The White House condemned DeSantis’ actions
Despite the unannounced visits to Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday, some island residents worked quickly to provide some vital services.
Haggerty said overall “the evacuation is overwhelming,” and reiterated that the island community responded to a call to help earlier this week when migrants arrived unannounced.
“Sometimes we’re alone and fearless here, but we understand the path of the journey and ultimately we’re a community that wants to help people,” Hagerty said.
CNN’s Maria Santana, Amy Simonson, Priscilla Alvarez and Devan Cole contributed to this report.
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