Claim that Martha’s Vineyard ‘deported’ migrants is wrong

After spending two days on Martha’s Vineyard Island, about 50 migrants, most of whom were from Venezuela, were transferred to mainland Massachusetts on September 16.

They were not deported, contrary to claims circulating on social media.

“Martha’s Vineyard leftists declared (a) humanitarian crisis and deported 50 illegals in just 24 hours,” read a Sept. 15 Instagram post that included footage of a moving bus.

(Screenshot from Instagram.)

The Gateway Pandit, a conservative website, shared the same footage in an article with a similarly misleading headline: “THAT WAS FAST: Buses arrive in Martha’s Vineyard DEPORTING illegals off the island.” The article was widely circulated on Facebook.

These posts were flagged in Facebook’s news feed as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The claims are misleading by misusing the term “deported”.

Deportation refers to removal from the country, not relocation within the state

Deportations “are deportations to a person’s country of origin or, in some cases, to a third country,” said Monika Langarica, an attorney at the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law.

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“Movement between states or regions within the United States is not deportation,” she said.

On Sept. 16, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration announced plans to house the migrants and provide access to necessary resources at Joint Base Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

This video provided by the Massachusetts National Guard shows the dormitories where immigrants will stay at Joint Base Cape Cod.

Martha’s Vineyard residents worked with local and state officials to ensure supplies temporary housing and necessities when the migrants arrived. But in the long term, Baker said, “island communities are unable to provide sustainable shelter, and state officials have developed a plan to deliver a full-scale humanitarian response.”

He said the state will provide transportation to the temporary shelter at the base and stressed that moving from Martha’s Vineyard to the neighboring county was “voluntary.”

Langarica said only the Department of Homeland Security or an immigration judge in the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review can deport migrants.

“Local governments or municipalities do not order or carry out deportations,” she said.

The migrants who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard were likely released by customs and border protection after an initial asylum eligibility check near San Antonio, according to news reports and experts.

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Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the bipartisan Institute for Migration Policy, told PolitiFact that migrants who are released at the border will not be taken into state custody. While awaiting their immigration hearings, many immigrants receive protection from nonprofit organizations or travel to other states and cities within the United States where they have friends or family.

By September 19, some of the migrants had left Joint Base Cape Cod for New York City, where relatives or friends were waiting for them, local NPR station reported.

Officials did not declare the situation a ‘humanitarian crisis’

Despite the Post’s claims, there is no indication that government officials in Massachusetts or Dukes County, where Martha’s Vineyard is located, have declared a “humanitarian crisis” over the migrants’ arrival.

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A September 15th tweet from the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce provided “an update on (the) current humanitarian crisis on Martha’s Vineyard”. The tweet was linked to a press release from the Dukes County Emergency Management Association, which addressed the “Martha’s Vineyard humanitarian response” but made no mention of “crisis.”

Furthermore, Baker’s comments about the situation do not refer to a “humanitarian crisis”.

Our verdict

An Instagram post claimed Martha’s Vineyard “deported 50 illegals in just 24 hours.”

Deportations occur when people are deported from the United States and sent back to their country of origin or, in some cases, a third country. The 50 or so migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard were not deported from the United States.

We consider this claim false.

TIED TOGETHER: What we know about DeSantis flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

TIED TOGETHER: In context: What a Martha’s Vineyard homeless shelter coordinator said about housing migrants

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