Former President Barack Obama and several other high-profile Democrats who own homes on Martha’s Vineyard have remained silent on whether they will open up their homes to provide comfort to any illegal immigrants sent to the island by Republican governors.
Representatives for the former president did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Fox News Digital on whether he has considered opening up his sprawling 29-acre estate on Martha’s Vineyard to illegal immigrants who have been sent to the island or may be in the future.
In addition, Fox News Digital reached out to representatives for prominent public supporters of President Biden who own homes on Martha’s Vineyard but did not receive a response.
Those Martha’s Vineyard residents include singer James Taylor, director Spike Lee and comedian David Letterman, who all reportedly have homes on the island.
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Fox News Digital exclusively reported on Wednesday that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent two planes carrying 50 illegal immigrants to the summer vacation spot popular among wealthy elites to highlight the record influx of illegal immigrants at the southern border that has overwhelmed many border towns and exhausted their resources.
“States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske told Fox News Digital.
Duke’s County, which comprises 11 islands off the coast of Massachusetts but is 99% represented by residents of Martha’s Vineyard, voted overwhelmingly for President Biden in the 2020 election by a margin of 77.7% to former President Trump’s 20.6%.
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Biden carried every town on the island from Aquinnah on the western coast, where he won 87.6% to 9.6%, to the main hub of Edgartown on the eastern coast, where he won 70.6% to 27.5%.
Former President Obama carried Duke’s County by 48 points in 2012 and by 52 points in 2008.
Despite overwhelmingly voting for immigration policies that are presented by Democrats as compassionate and welcoming, Martha’s Vineyard immediately pushed back at DeSantis and released a statement calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” and activated the National Guard.
Conservatives on social media were quick to point out that the various celebrities living on the island, many of whom voted for the current president and live in large estates, presumably should have no issue with housing the migrants.
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“Obama’s compound alone – if cots, trailers and tents are installed – could easily house several thousand illegal migrants,” former Trump adviser Stephen Miller tweeted. “Americans, during actual natural disasters (not illegal immigration for economic benefit) have been forced to sleep in stadiums and makeshift FEMA shelters.”
Several locals on the island also called for Obama to open up his home to the migrants, including crime novelist Jane Chittick, who suggested the former president doesn’t care about their plight.
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“I don’t think people like the Obamas with huge estates who live here in the summer will care (about the migrants),” Chittick told the New York Post. “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.”
Two days after arriving, the 50 migrants were loaded onto buses to be transported off of Martha’s Vineyard to military housing on the Cape Cod mainland.
Conservatives immediately accused Democrats, specifically the Biden administration, of hypocrisy.
“National Guard sent to interdict 50 illegal immigrants who disturbed liberals’ golf games & Chardonnay at Martha’s Vineyard,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. “Biden does NOTHING to address 4.2 MILLION illegal immigrants who have flooded small towns in Texas. Biden doesn’t care.”
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“Just 50 illegal immigrants entered Martha’s Vineyard, and within 48 hours the wealthy liberal residents rounded them up and shipped them off to a military base,” conservative commentator Michael Knowles tweeted.
In 2014, Obama referred to the practice of welcoming immigrants to our shores as something central to the American way of life.
“America is – and always has been – a nation of immigrants,” the former president said at a naturalization ceremony for service members and military spouses. “Throughout our history, immigrants have come to our shores in wave after wave from every corner of the globe. Every one of us, unless we’re Native American, has an ancestor who was born somewhere else. That’s what makes America special. That’s what makes us strong. The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life. It is in our DNA. “
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Martha’s Vineyard, where Obama purchased his estate in 2019, is one of the least diverse locations in the United States, with a population that is 88.1% White and 90.3% American-born, according to data published in 2019.
The 50 migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard represent less than one-tenth of 1% of the nearly 5 million illegal immigrants believed to have crossed the southern border since President Biden took office in January 2021.
There have so far been more than two million migrant encounters this fiscal year alone, on top of more than 1.7 million encounters in fiscal 2021. The 50 illegal immigrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard would be just 0.0025% of that number. While many of those are returned either via the Title 42 public health order or other methods by Border Patrol, a significant number are released into the U.S. to await their asylum hearings – which can take up to eight years. It also does not include the hundreds of thousands who slipped past agents, known as “gotaways.”
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According to CBP statistics, so far this fiscal year more than 500,000 migrants have been released into the U.S. by Border Patrol on their own recognizance with a court date (called a Notice to Appear) or paroled into the U.S. and enrolled into Alternatives to Detention (ATD). That statistic does not include the final two months of FY22.
Border towns will often face these numbers in surges as migrants come across in large groups. Fox News reported on Wednesday, the same day the 50 migrants were flying to Martha’s Vineyard, that several hundred migrants had gathered under a bridge in El Paso, Texas. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Fox that it was releasing migrants near El Paso shelters and bus stations as they are over capacity. El Paso’s mayor told Fox News last week it is seeing 1,000 to 1,400 migrants a day.
Conservatives on Twitter have mocked wealthy elites on Martha’s Vineyard for objecting to caring for 50 migrants while also seemingly expecting Texas border towns, with considerably less wealth, to adapt to the migration influx.
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“We don’t have the services to take care of 50 immigrants, and we certainly don’t have housing,” Lisa Belcastro, a homeless coordinator in Martha’s Vineyard, told a news crew this week after the migrants arrived on the island. “We can’t house everyone here that lives here and works here.”
Columnist Derek Hunter was one of many conservatives who took issue with Belcastro’s claim, saying on Twitter, “Add 50 illegal aliens and a rich liberal utopia becomes Thunderdome. But they all insist border states eat millions.”
The Biden administration slammed the move by DeSantis to send illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard as an “illegal stunt.”
“What they are doing is an illegal stunt, is a political stunt,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “And it’s really just disrespectful to humanity. It doesn’t afford them any dignity, what they’re doing, when you are abandoning families and children in a place where they were told they were going to get housing.”
Jean-Pierre added, “It is just cruel, and it’s not about the process. Actually, It’s about a political tool or political stunt that they’re moving forward with.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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