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Migrants to settle on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard when shelter closes this weekend

Eve Zuckoff

Several of the migrants who have been sheltered at Joint Base Cape Cod plan to stay on Cape Cod or return to Martha’s Vineyard before the shelter operation ends this weekend, according to state Sen. Julian Cyr.

“My understanding is that there's three individuals who will be coming to the Outer Cape [and] several individuals who will be going to Martha's Vineyard,” he said. “And then I think others are going elsewhere across the state.”

When the Baker administration announced Tuesday that the shelter operation would close, nearly three-quarters of the 49 migrants who were transported to the base from Martha’s Vineyard were still there.

“My sense is I think many of them … will be remaining in Massachusetts, particularly given the close proximity to their lawyers,” Cyr said.

“All these individuals are people who are here legally,” he said. “They're pursuing the asylum process.”

Three weeks ago, the migrants were flown to the Vineyard from Texas unexpectedly at the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Most came to the United States from Venezuela.

Susan Church, a Cambridge lawyer who represents five of the migrants pro bono, confirmed that most are applying for asylum, “because it is Venezuela, and that is definitely a very troubled country right now, where people certainly have a lot of different factors that would help an asylum claim.”

But finding housing has been a challenge, especially for men without children, because many aid programs aren’t designed for them, she said.

“That might be an area [where] the law could be looked at, because the housing crisis is pretty intense in Massachusetts,” she said.

Some of the migrants have been offered housing by people on Martha’s Vineyard, and they’ve accepted the offer. Others are headed to various locations around the state, including possibly Lowell and Brockton, she said.

Cyr said Cape Cod’s Housing Assistance Corporation, along with Brockton-based anti-homelessness organization Father Bill’s & MainSpring, have worked to secure local housing placements.

Asked how he would respond to local residents who need help finding housing, Cyr said the programs used to help the migrants are also available to the public.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.