Longtime Martha’s Vineyard residents hailed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ move to relocate migrants to the vacation island as a way of highlighting President Biden’s border crisis — with one suggesting Friday that ex-President Barack Obama’s $12 million estate should have been used as a processing center.
The idyllic enclave off the coast of Massachusetts was plunged into chaos and the local tourist board declared a “humanitarian crisis’’ Thursday after just 50 Venezuelan migrants landed there.
Resident Elizabeth Osborn Bostrom told The Post that she “stayed out of town most of the day “to avoid the commotion.
“People here leave their doors open. It’s safe and there’s no real crime, usually,” she said.
“I’m not upset they came here, but I’m a little wary. I have my doors locked.”
But Bostrom added, “I don’t blame DeSantis one bit.”
“He’s trying to draw attention to the problem America has currently,” she said.
“It’s not an anti-immigration move. It’s bringing the biggest issue in America to people’s doorsteps.”
On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called in the National Guard to end the emergency and relocate the migrants to Joint Base Cape Cod, a military installation on the nearby mainland.
Jane Chittick, a former town official-turned-crime novelist, has lived in Martha’s Vineyard for 42 years but now spends part of the year in Florida.
Speaking to The Post on Friday, Chittick said: “I don’t think people like the Obamas with huge estates who live here in the summer will care (about the migrants).
1 of 12
“They have all these signs: ‘Private Property,’ ‘No Trespassing,’ ‘Do Not Come,’ ‘Police Are Patrolling.’ They’re not going to be on the streets in town or the church where a lot of the migrants were put last night.”
Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama own a $12 million estate on the island, where he famously threw a massive party celebrating his 60th birthday amid the coronavirus pandemic in August 2021, attended by hundreds of his celebrity friends.
“I would love to see the Obamas open up their huge property and erect tents and look after all these people while they’re being processed,” Chittick said.
Despite calls to keep the migrants on the island, Friday’s relocation put them out of sight of the island’s deep-pocketed and well-connected inhabitants, who include former Secretary of State John Kerry, comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Myers, director Spike Lee and ex-Obama aide Valerie Jarrett.
“The people who live there are rich and removed from real life,” Chittick said, labeling them all “phonies.” “These people will love the fact the immigrants have been dropped off on their island, because now they can feel like part of the solution, helping these few people. But they’d never let them into their houses unless they were working.”
Chittick told The Post that the moneyed elites started to move to Martha’s Vineyard a little more than a decade ago, seeking a peaceful island lifestyle — and pricing out most working-class residents in the process.
On Thursday, DeSantis chartered two planes to transport around 50 migrants from Texas via Florida to Martha’s Vineyard to taunt Democratic leaders and stoke opposition to President Biden’s lax border policies.
The stunt sparked outrage among liberals, who accused DeSantis of using the migrants 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.”
“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.
That assertion clashes with figures posted online by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, which says that the island “is home to roughly 17,000 year-round residents” but that “the population increases to nearly 200,000” during the summer.
In addition, 63% of all the homes there “belong to seasonal residents.”
Migrant crisis moves North: Here’s what’s happening around the country as border states bus migrants around the US
Julianne Vanderhoop, a 57-year-old baker, “The rich build homes for millions of dollars and then keep them empty.”“These houses are huge and overbuilt,” he said.
Vanderhoop, chairman of the Aquinnah Select Board, also said that “people used to be more generous here” and blamed wealthy summer residents for the lack of affordable housing on the island.“It’s extremely hard for those who live here and work here, for us to remain here,” he said.