All migrants transported last month to Vineyard to leave the military base at the weekend
After housing the migrants for about two weeks at Joint Base Cape Cod, the Baker administration is now transitioning the families to temporary emergency shelters, said Susan Church, an immigration attorney who represents a family and several men. unmarried from the migrant group. Single men, Church said, are ineligible for the state program that provides limited amounts of temporary emergency housing.
“The state has put families first,” Church said. “I don’t think they provide [the single men] lodging. Instead, they show them where the shelters are. Others, she added, are considering returning to Martha’s Vineyard where they have received offers of help during their short stay.
Carlos, a migrant who traveled to the United States alone, said he didn’t know anyone in the United States he could stay with and he was unsure where he would go next.
“My thought is Boston,” he wrote in a text message Tuesday.
Church said on Tuesday that the timetable for the departure of migrants from the base had been communicated to migrants and their lawyers in the past few days.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security declined to comment beyond the statement.
Many migrants, mostly Venezuelans, began their journey months ago. They traveled by train, on foot, and by motor vehicle through Central America to the southern border of the United States.
Enrique, one of the migrants staying at the base, said in recent interviews that he was brutally beaten by a gang near the Mexican town of Tampico before reaching Texas. Another migrant, identified only as Yanet Doe in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of most migrants, made part of the journey aboard the infamous death traina dangerous network of trains used by migrants traveling north through Mexico, according to court documents.
When the migrants finally reached Texas, they became unwitting pawns in a political maneuver for which DeSantis claimed credit. There, in San Antonio, a woman now identified as Perla Huerta, a former Army counterintelligence specialist, promised them a free trip to Boston, Washington, D.C., and “sanctuary states,” according to interviews with migrants and court documents.
She reportedly said that if they boarded planes chartered by the state of Florida, they would receive cash assistance and jobs upon arrival.
Instead, the migrants landed, unannounced, on Martha’s Vineyard on September 14. There were none of the promised amenities – just islanders and tourists who were as surprised as the migrants.
The local community and the state of Massachusetts sprang into action, providing food, cell phones, temporary shelter and, after a few days, transit to Joint Base Cape Cod, where most of the migrants have been living for a little more than two years. weeks.
Carlos, who like Enrique preferred not to release his last name out of fear for his safety, said he was overwhelmed by the influx of support from volunteers, nonprofits, the government of State and Army of Massachusetts. “I am extremely grateful,” he said.
The office of DeSantis, a Republican and possible 2024 presidential candidate, said in a recent statement, “Transportation of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis. Immigrants were homeless, starving and abandoned. . . The Florida program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these people chose to take advantage of charter flights to Massachusetts.
Among those who left the base is a family of three represented by Church. The family has moved into temporary emergency accommodation in Lowell, where Church believes she can stay for a few months. But beyond state-provided housing, there is little for them in the city, she said. They have no contacts there.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Church said.
Unlike migrants from Central American countries, such as Honduras or Nicaragua, Venezuelans tend to have few connections in the United States, Church said. Venezuelans, who fled political upheaval, violence and economic instability in their home country, have a shorter history of large-scale migration to the United States, so there is a smaller diaspora.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which represents migrants in the class action, urged the state government to continue supporting migrants.
“Our clients come from extremely vulnerable backgrounds,” he said in an email to The Globe on Tuesday. “Many have traveled for weeks in dangerous and unstable conditions, not to mention falling victim to DeSantis’ fraudulent scheme. . . . We urge state officials to ensure safe housing options for migrants. »
Samantha J. Gross of The Globe staff contributed to this report.
Mike Damiano can be contacted at [email protected]