MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass.—While some locals have claimed that the illegal immigrants who arrived on the wealthy island of Martha’s Vineyard should go elsewhere since there would be no work available for them, the local newspaper listed 50 help wanted ads in a recent issue, and the local supermarket chain has been known to need help all year long.
The classified section of the Vineyard Gazette listed the jobs in the same issue that ran a story about the illegal aliens, referring to them as “stranded migrants.” The job ads included positions for laborers, custodians, landscapers, bakers, cooks, dishwashers, technicians, library assistants, and several retail positions.
The local YMCA also listed several job openings, including housekeepers, ice arena workers, and a front desk administrator. The spacious Y, located near St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church—where the illegal immigrants spent the night—shares a complex with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), which also ran a help wanted ad in the paper, including a job for administrative assistant, “bilingual preferred.”
MVCS didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time. The outreach center and the island’s homeless shelter told the media that they didn’t have room for the illegal aliens.
In the afternoon of Sept. 17, a Saturday, the large MVCS complex had several doors to its buildings wide open, but no staff could be found. One of the open buildings consisted of two floors with several empty rooms, including rooms with full kitchens and couches.
A group of friends enjoying an outdoor lunch at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport told The Epoch Times that while the plume of summer jobs is over, there are still enough job opportunities on the island.
The women, year-round residents who grew up on the Vineyard, pointed to Stop & Shop, a grocery store chain with three locations on the island. According to the women, the stores are always looking for help and they have worker dormitories, which they said are “now empty” with most of the summer help gone.
“Martha’s Vineyard is a tale of two cities,” said one of the women, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But Charles Rus, music director at St. Andrew’s, the church in Edgartown where the illegal immigrants were housed, told The Epoch Times there weren’t any jobs for them on the island.
“There’s space, but there’s no job,” he said.
Rus had offered to put some of the illegal immigrants up in his two-bedroom apartment.
“If they had come four months earlier, every one of them would have had a $20-per-hour job,” he said.
In response to criticism that the illegal aliens were forced off the island, Rus said the Venezuelans had to leave the island for “practical reasons,” including the need to attend scheduled court hearings.
According to a Sept. 16 story in the Vineyard Gazette, the Island Counseling Center provided each of the 50 illegal immigrants with individual legal counseling by an immigration attorney.
The Baker Call
The seemingly ample availability of jobs on Martha’s Vineyard isn’t the only point of contradiction to the narrative spun by some locals and picked up by establishment media outlets.
Some locals questioned whether local officials were unaware of the two planes of illegal aliens chartered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and speculated about who had called on Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to remove the uninvited visitors.
“I don’t think Baker woke up in the morning, said, ‘Hey, I think I’ll take those 50 immigrants off the hands of Martha’s Vineyard,'” Richard Rooney, who lives and owns a real estate agency on the island, told The Epoch Times.
Less than 24 hours after the immigrants’ arrival on Martha’s Vineyard, a self-proclaimed sanctuary community, Baker approved their transfer off the island to a military base in Bourne, which is located within minutes of the ferry terminal. At the base, the group was given shelter, food, clothing, and other supplies. Baker committed 125 members of the Massachusetts National Guard as part of the transfer.
Rooney, a Republican who has been active in the local government for about 30 years, also joined others who pointed to the notification requirements by Martha’s Vineyard Airport for unscheduled flights.
Democrats have attacked DeSantis, a Republican, for sending the illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard in what they have characterized as an ambush.
“We were given no notice,” Massachusetts state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat representing Martha’s Vineyard, told a TV news outlet the day the illegal immigrants arrived on the island.
The island airport’s flight notification requirements state that any plane with more than nine passengers is required to give 24 hours’ notice before takeoff, and suggest that a passenger list must also be provided in advance. Video footage from Fox News shows the illegal aliens disembarking from a plane shortly after arriving on Martha’s Vineyard.
If the plane was “secretly” sent, Rooney wonders, why was someone at the airport filming the debarkation?
On Sept. 18, a man answering the phone line for airport operations refused to provide general information about the airport’s notification requirements, initially telling The Epoch Times that there were no notification requirements. When The Epoch Times stated the 24-hour notice policy for flights with nine or more passengers, the man said he wasn’t permitted to speak to the press.
Martha’s Vineyard Airport is funded with tax dollars and receives sizable state and federal subsidies.
The airport received $1.2 million in federal COVID-19 aid in 2020. In 2019, Dukes County, the county-level government on Martha’s Vineyard, gave the airport $1.2 million for “improvements.”
Airport General Geoffrey Freeman couldn’t be reached for comment.
In response to the charge made by Democrats that DeSantis used the immigrants as political pawns, Rooney told The Epoch Times that he sees the move by DeSantis “as no different than Biden sneaking millions of illegal immigrants all over the country in the dark of night by bus and plane.”
“At least DeSantis did it in the daylight,” Rooney said.
Within 12 hours after the arrival of the immigrants to the island, social media posts on Facebook and Twitter were riddled with criticism aimed at wealthy Democrats for not offering up their empty summer rentals.
Rus told The Epoch Times that there were locals who did derisively call for putting the immigrants up in former President Barack Obama’s estate.
“But they were in the minority,” he said.