By Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV
CAMBRIDGE - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew a group of Venezuelan migrants north to Martha's Vineyard on Wednesday. The Governor says it's part of his state's plan to bring migrants to what he calls "sanctuary destinations."
Massachusetts is not a sanctuary state, but there have been proposals for it on Beacon Hill. A sanctuary city or state is a location that limits cooperation with federal immigration laws. There are eight cities in the state that are sanctuary cities. They are Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Concord, Newton, Northampton, and Somerville. What they do is legal, and how much they cooperate can vary from city to city.
"Some cities don't share information. Some cities go as far as not honoring what the government sees as mandatory detainers, but aren't actually mandatory," details Ragini Shah, a Suffolk law professor and their director of the university's Immigration Clinic.
Shah says no state is truly a sanctuary state, but that all states comply with federal laws even if some cities in their state do not.
"They are talking about sanctuary cities as a way of heightening everybody's fears," believes Shah. "It's not so much a matter of numbers. It's more about the rhetorical importance of people on the right saying these are folks you need to be afraid of, so we are going to send them to a place where they say you don't need to be afraid of these folks."
Shah calls the Martha's Vineyard situation different than what we saw with Ukraine and Afghani refugees in the past few years. She says in those instances they were being resettled, and likely with a chance for status in the country.
"There is a lot of sympathy for folks from Ukraine, which is good and correct. I think some of it is our own beliefs about these folks," Shah said. "What is interesting to me is that we don't extend the same sympathy to folks from Central America and South America, and places that the folks on Martha's Vineyard are coming from, when they are fleeing equally dangerous circumstances."
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