NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Leaders from Northampton and Amherst say they’ve received calls claiming migrants would be sent to their communities, because they are sanctuary destinations. This after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent dozens of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard unannounced.
Amherst and Northampton have all taken on the label “sanctuary destinations” and that’s what the Republican Governors are taking aim at. Sanctuary destinations refer to communities that have made a public decision about how they will cooperate with agencies like ICE.
“Within the area that we can control, we are going to not report the people who are having immigration issues to the immigration authorities and we are going to be supportive of them,” said Dennis Desmarais, an immigration lawyer.
He said a lot of the questions surrounding the arrival of migrants from Venezuela, feel like a question you’d find in law school. Governor Ron DeSantis called the migrants illegal immigrants. However Dennis told 22News, it is not illegal to come to the United States to make an application for asylum.
“I’ve interviewed a lot of clients, a lot of potential clients who say, ‘We were extorted by a gang completely out of control in our home territory and I was forced to do things because our family, my sisters, my brothers were threatened’,” he said.
One of his concerns as an immigration attorney is making sure these migrants received the correct information, like who to contact when they change their address. Dennis said if important mail doesn’t reach them in time that could be grounds for deportation.
“They’re kind of left up to their own devices and the help of people in the community and the many of volunteers who’ve come forward to help them find resources to deal with issues of housing, health insurance, taking care of their children,” Dennis told 22News.
On Friday, the migrants were taken to Joint Base Cape Cod, a decision made by Governor Charlie Baker.