Migrant group sheltering on MV moves to Joint Base Cape Cod
The group of about 50 migrants who have been in temporary shelter on Martha’s Vineyard has moved to Joint Base Cape Cod. The move is voluntary. The group traveled by bus and ferry, surrounded by media.
An emotional leave-taking
Around 10 o’clock this morning, teary migrants hugged volunteers, took selfies, and gave thanks to those who supported them during their two-night stay at the Edgartown shelter.
They boarded buses in donated Edgartown police sweatshirts and Vineyard hockey t-shirts carrying duffle bags, suitcases, and pillows. Families brought games for their children.
Lisa Belcastro, who oversees the shelter on Martha’s Vineyard, was emotional as she said farewell. She said they will be forever in her heart.
“I want them to come to America and be embraced,” Belcastro said. “They all want to work. And I just I want their journey to have a happy ending.”
The migrants are now at Joint Base Cape Cod, where officials saying they’re being met with access to healthcare, mental health services, education, and immigration attorneys.
The Base is a designated emergency shelter in Barnstable County. An announcement by the state on the move came this morning. It cites the Base facility as offering “accommodation appropriate for the needs of families and children.”
The group spent the previous two nights at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown. That space sometimes serves as a temporary homeless shelter for as many as 12 people. It has only a single shower.
Public word of the move came this morning. The migrant group seemed in upbeat spirits as they packed for the bus ride to the ferry, pausing outside to take a group photo, and exchanging hugs with the volunteers from the Vineyard who have helped staff the shelter.
The Vineyard response to the arrival of the migrants has been an outpouring of support, said Belcastro, who called the flood of donations, which overflowed the shelter’s capacity, “amazing.”
Joint Base Cape Cod becomes their next stop
Two motorcycle police escorted the big yellow charter bus carrying the group as it arrived at Joint Base Cape Cod.
Community volunteers organized by the Waquoit Congregational Church are expected to enter the base this evening at the request of the state.
The Reverend Nell Fields says she’s not sure what they’ll will do, but they’re more than willing to help.
“The response has been incredible,” Fields said. “All of these people I know, who have volunteered to take a shift, not knowing exactly what they're going to be doing — but really committed to welcome these newly arrived people.”
Also headed onto the base was Boston restaurant owner Katiuska Valiente, the back of her vehicle filled with Venezuelan food.
She says she too came from Venezuela, and she felt moved to feed her people.
This story has been edited and enlarged to contain more detail. Check back for updates.