BOSTON (State House News Service) – Though Gov. Charlie Baker would not give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to a reporter’s question on whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis committed any crimes by sending 48 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard under seemingly false pretenses last week, the Massachusetts governor did say he was glad a Texas sheriff has opened an investigation into the situation.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar in Texas opened a criminal investigation on Monday. Salazar declined to name possible suspects, according to CNBC reporting, but said in a news conference, “Everybody on this call knows who those names are already.”
“We need to figure out what did and didn’t happen,” Baker said Tuesday morning during a media scrum at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the South Station redevelopment project in Boston. “I’m glad the sheriff chose to open an investigation. I think that’s the right thing to do.”
He then echoed comments he made on Sunday, saying he had not spoken to DeSantis and urging federal immigration reform.
“Everybody who pays attention essentially knows that we have a giant problem with immigration in the United States. It needs to be reformed. I’ve been saying this for eight years to my colleagues at the federal level,” he said. “I think if anything comes out of this, it could possibly be positive. Sending people, as I said before, all over the country when they don’t know where they’re going and in some cases, maybe under false pretenses, it’s just really, not a good thing to do.”
Republican governors, with whom Baker serves on the Republican Governors Association, have been sending migrants from states on the southern border up north to liberal states in recent weeks. When asked if Massachusetts is preparing for more unexpected migrants by way of Gov. DeSantis, Baker responded, “I don’t know what is going to happen going forward.” He added that immigrants come into Massachusetts every day with “varying immigration statuses.”
Baker said there are legal experts helping the asylum seekers with immigration processing, but the “big thing” the state is working on, along with its nonprofit partners, is “more effective housing solutions.” The migrants are currently housed on Joint Base Cape Cod in dormitory-style rooms. They were moved from the Vineyard on Friday.
“This is a big step up from what they had on the Vineyard, where everybody was basically in a church, which was incredibly gracious, but it had two bathrooms and one shower. They have a lot more privacy where they are now,” Baker said.