Martha’s Vineyard migrants, defenders undeterred by threats


“Last week we saw some of the worst aspects of our politics and with them came unacceptable hatred and vitriol.”

State Representative Dylan Fernandes spoke to members of the media last week regarding the group of migrants who recently arrived at Martha’s Vineyard.

State Representative Dylan Fernandes was returning home last Wednesday when he received a call that about 50 migrants had been flown to Martha’s Vineyard without warning.

Fernandes, whose district includes Martha’s Vineyard, immediately packed up and hopped on the first ferry to the island, wanting to help.

And he wasn’t the only one; within hours, the community had rallied to house, feed and care for the migrants, who had been sent there without notice by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as part of the so-called ‘Relocation Program’. immigration” from the state.

“We’ve seen the best of what the community offers, and the best – in my mind – of what America can be, in terms of coming together to support incredibly vulnerable people and show them the dignity and support that they deserve,” Fernandes told .

But, he added, “the thing to take away from the other side is how cruel some people in this country can be, and some parts of this country support them in that.”

Threats against migrants, defenders

Example: a little over a week after their arrival in Massachusetts, the migrants and their defenders received death threats.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, which represents the majority of migrants, filed a federal class action lawsuit Wednesday against DeSantis, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, the state of Florida and other “accomplices.”

Meanwhile, LCR clients “have received a deluge of hateful messages, including death threats,” according to Elyssa Pachico, director of communications for Alianza Americas, a network of migrant-led organizations and one of complainants.

“Because of the legitimacy of these threats, … a federal court in Boston granted (Wednesday) a motion to proceed anonymously to protect the identities of the migrant plaintiffs involved,” Pachico told in an e -mail.

Fernandes said his office has received thousands of messages regarding his work with migrants. Many of them are encouraging, he said, “and many of them are not.”

“I’m not at all surprised by the response,” Fernandes said. “This is not the first time as an elected official that I have received unpleasant things; that unfortunately, unfortunately, comes with the territory of being a public servant at that time.

But he said he felt it was important to stand up to DeSantis and other governors who ferried migrants to sanctuary states and treated them as less than human.

Fernandes teamed up with State Senator Julian Cyr, whose district includes Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, where many migrants stay at Joint Base Cape Cod.

The couple wrote letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins urging the Justice Department to investigate the circumstances of the migrant transport. Their claims that the migrants were persuaded to board under deceptive promises of housing, jobs and immigration assistance matched the Lawyers for Civil Rights account.

In an email to, Cyr’s office confirmed that the senator had also received threats and other hateful messages.

“Last week we saw some of the worst aspects of our politics and with them came unacceptable hatred and vitriol,” Cyr said in a statement. “My colleagues and I are taking matters into our own hands and focusing on the compassionate response of our constituents to the situation.”

“It is a stark reminder of the threat that many immigrants constantly experience,” he added. “We must ensure the safety of asylum seekers who come to this country in search of safety and a better life.”

And after?

Today, Fernandes said her work with migrants focuses on facilitating longer-term solutions in the community.

“We had many people who came from Martha’s Vineyard and also from Cape Town with housing support, options and jobs,” he said.

His office relayed these offers to social workers and lawyers working with migrants on the ground.

“I know there are a lot of people in the community who would like to see them stay here, but of course at the end of the day they are free to leave whenever they want,” Fernandes said, adding, “It’s It’s ultimately up to them to decide what happens next.”


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