Venezuelan migrants leaving Joint Base Cape. Here's where they are going.

Out of the 35 Venezuelan migrants who remain at Joint Base Cape Cod, several will make their way to the outer Cape and to Martha's Vineyard by week's end, said state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro.

"Three individuals, who are related, are coming to the Outer Cape," Cyr said. "Others will head to Martha's Vineyard, and service providers like HAC (Housing Assistance Corporation Cape Cod) and Father Bill's (& Mainspring) are working to find placement for everyone else."

Fourteen migrants, who arrived unexpectedly on Martha's Vineyard Sept. 14, already left Joint Base Cape Cod, Cyr said, as the state gave housing priority to families with school-aged children.

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"Two individuals left to New York City pretty early on," he said. "Three out of the four families have already left the Cape area."

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker's office announced in a press release that remaining families would be transferred out of Joint Base Cape by this weekend, with the help of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency or MEMA.

Unsure of the next step a young migrant holds her new toy close before boarding a bus with her family leaving Edgartown Sept. 16 headed to Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne. All the migrants are expected to leave the base by this weekend.
Unsure of the next step a young migrant holds her new toy close before boarding a bus with her family leaving Edgartown Sept. 16 headed to Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne. All the migrants are expected to leave the base by this weekend.

Joint Base Cape Cod was only temporary stop for migrants

Joint Base Cape Cod is not a long-term solution, Cyr said. While there is a shuttle that can take them to nearby stores, families are staying in dormitories and are largely cut off from neighborhoods and the Cape community. As their time comes to an end at the base, Cyr said, families are figuring out their next move with the help of state and local organizations.

"It's no place to build a life," Cyr said of the base. "Some of these folks want to travel on and meet with family and friends. I talked to one gentleman who was headed to Salt Lake City and another planned to travel to Seattle to meet family. They are figuring out if they stick with those plans or stay in Massachusetts."

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The migrants, who were initially picked up in Texas, after crossing the southern border, were  brought to Joint Base Cape Cod Sept. 16 after being flown to Martha's Vineyard the previous Wednesday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration.

DeSantis took credit for the move, in an attempt to pressure President Joe Biden to take action regarding immigration issues at the U.S. southern border and federal immigration policy.

"All of these Venezuelan asylum seekers are eager to start their lives. Even before this whole affair they had a perilous journey to reach this country and they are fleeing a brutal dictatorship and a failed economy," Cyr said.

Migrants getting help finding housing

Efforts to find housing for families is largely being conducted by Housing Assistance Corporation Cape Cod and Father Bill's & Main Spring, which is based in Brockton, Cyr said.

The two housing service providers are using Residential Assistance for Families in Transition or RAFT, said Cyr, which is a homelessness prevention program funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development. RAFT resources also provide short-term financial assistance to low-income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

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"They are deploying the same sort of strategies and programs they use to help anyone find housing," Cyr said.

Throughout the process, the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts has been providing ongoing legal support in collaboration with numerous nonprofit organizations and private attorneys, including Lawyers for Civil Rights.

"I think for most of these folks, if they get their paperwork squared away, the big thing that they — and we would like to see them do — is figure out some way to turn that into work," Baker said in a press release. "That's the reason most of them say they came in the first place."

Regardless of whether families remain on the Cape and islands or throughout the state, Cyr said it's important for people to remember that Massachusetts regularly welcomes migrants from all over the world.

"I was talking to one service provider who estimates that about 4,500 Haitian migrants arrived to Massachusetts — mostly to Boston — over the summer," he said. "It's important to do everything we can to provide dignity, support and compassion to the Venezuelan asylum seekers, but we've got new arrivals coming here each and every day."

Contact Rachael Devaney at rdevaney@capecodonline.com. Follow her on Twitter: @RachaelDevaney.

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This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Venezuelan migrants to leave Joint Base Cape Cod for other communities