BOSTON (SHNS) – Migrants who arrived on Martha’s Vineyard this week will be able to move to Joint Base Cape Cod for temporary shelter, and Gov. Charlie Baker will activate up to 125 Massachusetts National Guard personnel to assist the effort, the administration announced Friday.
Officials said they will offer migrants “voluntary” transportation to the base Friday as part of a “comprehensive humanitarian response.” They said JBCC is better equipped to handle the roughly 50 migrants from Venezuela who were sent to Massachusetts on flights organized by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — a move that Democrat Senate President Karen Spilka described as “tantamount to a form of human trafficking for pure political games.”
JBCC, which has previously served as an emergency shelter for displaced individuals in situations such as the devastation after Hurricane Katrina, will provide migrants housing in dormitory-style spaces and also has the capacity to provide access to health care and legal services. Interpreters will make all services available in recipients’ native languages. The move from the Vineyard to the base will be voluntary, and no families will be separated, the Baker administration said.
The administration’s press office said islanders “joined with local and state officials to create temporary shelter and provide necessities in a moment of urgent need” following the unexpected arrival of the migrants, but that the Vineyard is “not equipped to provide sustainable accommodation.” “We are grateful to the providers, volunteers and local officials that stepped up on Martha’s Vineyard over the past few days to provide immediate services to these individuals,” Baker, who has not spoken directly to reporters since the situation unfolded, said in a statement. “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.”