Massachusetts Communities Worry About State-Sponsored Kidnapping of Migrants

Martha’s Vineyard Rep. Dylan Fernandes. (Official photograph.)

It happened on Martha’s Vineyard and other Massachusetts communities are openly questioning whether they’ll receive the same lack of courtesy notice of future arrivals.

Community and political leaders on Martha’s Vineyard scrambled Wednesday night to secure accommodations for about 50 people who arrived on the island by plane, apparently sent as part of a Republican governor’s immigrant “relocation program.” Gov. Charlie Baker’s office said it is supporting local efforts to provide short-term shelter for the immigrants who arrived on the Vineyard.

Politico reported that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office confirmed that the planes of roughly 50 people were sent to Massachusetts on behalf of what the governor’ office called Florida’s “relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

“Currently immigrants are being dropped off on Martha’s Vineyard by chartered flights from Texas. Many don’t know where they are. They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs,” Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents the island, said on Twitter. Fernandes said islanders were “given no notice but are coming together as a community to support them.”

Others observe the United States is now in violation of an international treaty—the “Ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article 16 of the treaty, requires ratifying nations to prevent “other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1.”

Article III of the U.S. Constitution gives federal courts the jurisdiction to rule on “controversies between two or more states.”

The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported that the immigrants are from Venezuela and that the group includes 10 to 12 children. The paper said that Dukes County Sheriff Robert Ogden spoke to the group outside Martha’s Vineyard Community Services late Wednesday afternoon and said, “We’re going to take care of you.” The immigrants were taken first to Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and then to a church in Edgartown, where they spent the night. Local businesses provided pizza and coffee, and the local newspaper said that no medical issues were reported.

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