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Small Martha's Vineyard Churches Showed Christian Compassion as Ritzy Island Worked to 'Deport' 50 Migrants

(Graphic: CBN News)

The unexpected arrival and sudden removal of a small group of migrants from Martha's Vineyard is still making headlines across the country. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sent about 50 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, by plane to the wealthy resort island last week, which gave them a brief shelter before they were quickly pushed off the island.

DeSantis' move angered liberals who accused the Florida governor of using people as "political pawns."

Lisa Belcastro, the winter shelter coordinator for the Harbor Homes of Martha's Vineyard nonprofit, told reporters Thursday that "we do not have the services to take care of 50 immigrants, and we certainly don't have housing," according to The New York Post

"We're in a housing crisis as we are on this island, and so we don't … have housing for 50 more people," she said.

However, this claim wasn't backed up by facts later reported by multiple outlets. 

PJ Media reports it only took the exclusive summer haven for New England's politicians and celebrities less than two days to declare a "humanitarian crisis" and exile the migrants to the mainland. Residents of the island claimed they just didn't have room for the small group of migrants.  

In response, the outlet checked both Hotels.com and Airbnb for rooms and reported Airbnb had 66 homes available on Sunday. It also reported Hotels.com had seven places with multiple rooms available. 

Instead, on Friday, the migrants were moved by members of the Massachusetts National Guard to a military base on Cape Cod. 

The 50 migrants sent to Martha's Vineyard represent less than one-tenth of 1% of the nearly 5 million illegal immigrants believed to have crossed the southern border since President Biden took office in January 2021, according to Fox News

DeSantis said that many migrants aim to come to Florida and that the trip to Martha's Vineyard was voluntary. 

The Florida governor defended picking up migrants in Texas and vowed to continue transportation to immigrant-friendly "sanctuary" jurisdictions.

"Our view is that you've got to deal with it at the source, and if they're intending to come to Florida or many of them are intending to come to Florida, that's our best way to make sure they end up in a sanctuary," he said.

With the migrant debate escalating over the weekend, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted his interview with the outlet, writing: "Last year, Martha Vineyard leadership said they'd love Martha's Vineyard to be a 'haven' for immigrants. But with just 50 illegal aliens, it just took 24 hours before they deported them out of the Vineyard!"

One longtime Martha's Vineyard resident Elizabeth Osborn Bostrom told The New York Post she wasn't upset the migrants came to the island. 

"But I'm a little wary," she said. "I have my doors locked."

"I don't blame DeSantis one bit," Bostrom added. "He's trying to draw attention to the problem America has currently."

"It's not an anti-immigration move. It's bringing the biggest issue in America to people's doorsteps," she noted. 

Island's Small Churches Respond to Migrants' Needs

While the island's political leaders were struggling to respond to their new predicament, the Martha's Vineyard Island Clergy Association took action to meet the needs of their new guests. 

Religion News Service (RNS) reports St. Andrews, a small Episcopal church, hosted the migrants for two nights, providing meals and a place to stay at the parish house, which hosts a shelter four nights a week during the winter. The church hall is already equipped with cots, a large kitchen, showers, and laundry for the shelter. 

Other churches and residents sent food, clothes, and other supplies for the migrants. 

The Rev. Vincent "Chip" Seadale told RNS that little churches like St. Andrew's still matter. He said the response of the church and the community shows that when people listen to their hearts, they can still rally together.

"It's becoming much clearer to me these days that there is a role for responsible people of faith," he said. "We need to step up and fill this void in a responsible way — caring for everyone, no matter what they say or think."

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