About 50 migrants unexpectedly arrived by plane on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, escalating a tactic in which Republican-led states have shipped busloads of migrants to liberal bastions like Washington, D.C., and New York City to protest the significant rise in illegal immigration under President Biden. The migrant group, which included children, arrived on two planes around 3 p.m. without any warning, said State Sen. Julian Cyr, a Massachusetts Democrat, the New York Times reports. Officials and volunteers from the island’s six towns “really moved heaven and earth to essentially set up the response that we would do in the event of a hurricane,” he said.
As the migrants received COVID-19 tests, food and clothing, there was confusion about who had sent them to Martha’s Vineyard. Migrants said they had started the day in San Antonio. Taryn Fenske, communications director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said the two flights were part of a state program to transport undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary destinations. This year the Florida Legislature set aside $12 million for the transportation program. “States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” Fenske said. The migrants appear to mostly be from Venezuela. They received basic relief services at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services before being taken across the street to the regional high school and to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown. Large cities have struggled to cope with migrants who arrive “with little to no notice,” as Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois said Wednesday. He cited the emergency shelter and medical care needed by the 500 migrants who have been shipped on buses from Texas to Chicago.