Southern New England leaders respond to migrants on Martha’s Vineyard

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (WLNE) — While roughly 50 Venezuelan migrants have found shelter on Martha’s Vineyard from Florida, political leaders across the region weighed in on the polarizing topic.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew the migrants from Florida to the sanctuary community Wednesday.

He explained, “Our message to them is we are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction.”

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and leaders on the island said they would do everything they can to assist the migrants.

Bristol County Sherriff Tom Hodgson fears for the safety of sanctuary communities.

He told ABC 6 News Thursday that “all the elected officials around this country, who are inviting people and welcoming them to come by, saying, ‘We will create this sanctuary for you, where you can just come, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you are not identified as being in violation with the law.’ Why wouldn’t they come?”

He continued, “This is completely unfair, and they are doing exactly what they promised to do. The people that are complaining about them are the ones who have not upheld their oath, who have basically created the problem, and now they’re crying because the governors are no moving these people out of their jurisdictions.”

Massachusetts State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, called DeSantis’ actions a political stunt.

“There is nothing tough about using women and children for your own political gain,” said Fernandes. “[Governor DeSantis] is a coward. History will judge this cruelly, and it will be not be kind to him.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said he had not spoke to Baker about the situation. He plans on working with him and the state in the future.

Asked if residents should expect the same in Rhode Island, McKee replied, “I don’t know. If it does, we’ll have a plan for it. Like I said, we’ll deal with the issue when it presents itself. We’ll call into Governor Baker, get his take on what he’s doing, and it’ll be a new experience.”

Republican candidate for Rhode Island governor, Ashley Kalus, released a statement reading in part: “Like many Rhode Islanders, my family traces our lives in the United States to a welcoming, fair, legal immigration system. I have benefited immensely from the opportunities given to me by this country. I strongly believe that, as in all matters of the public debate, immigration is about balance.”

“While this is largely a federal matter, I believe that our elected leaders must ensure we remain a welcoming nation of opportunity. At the same time, protecting the public is the most important job of the governor. We must ensure our borders are secure and our communities are safe. In my view, immigration is what makes America strong, innovative, and prosperous. We are the greatest country in the world. We have a duty to get this balance right,” she continue.

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