Calls reporting migrants coming to Amherst, Northampton determined to be false

Calls reporting migrants coming to Amherst, Northampton determined to be false
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 9:42 PM EDT
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AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Phone calls reported to be from the Texas governor’s office came in Thursday and said buses transporting migrants were on the way to Northampton and Amherst as Martha’s Vineyard received dozens of migrants flown in unexpectedly by Florida’s governor.

Community leaders in Amherst and Northampton confirmed Thursday they were receiving calls that buses full of migrants would be coming to the two communities. However, now, they are saying it was all a hoax.

Nearly 50 migrants were flown into Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday. The Venezuelan migrants were sent to the Bay State island by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, mirroring similar actions taken recently by governors in Texas and Arizona, protesting what they feel are inadequate U.S. border security measures. This drew a strong reaction from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who spoke with Western Mass News about what he called a political stunt.

“These people are human beings. They’re being played as political pawns. That’s not right. I would like to see the federal government, Congress start to do something,” Sarno said.

Following the news from Martha’s Vineyard, calls flooded into Amherst town hall and Northampton city hall from a blocked phone number. The person on the other end of the phone claimed to be from Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office. They stated buses were on their way to the Amherst and Northampton communities, containing individuals described as migrants. However, Amherst’s town manager and the mayor of Northampton released a joint statement regarding the calls on Friday morning that read, in part:

“At this point, the best information we have is that these reports were false - for the moment.”

The statement went on to say that because of these calls, they have consulted with community partners to determine a road map to handle these types of situations in the future and said:

“In response, leadership from both communities, alongside state, federal, and regional partners in social service agencies, immigrant advocates, public safety, and public health, have created a road map for how we would respond, provide support and meet people’s needs if we were to have people arrive unexpectedly or with little notice. This has strengthened our relationships and communication with each other in ways that serve all of western Massachusetts. Our communities have well-established systems in place to respond to emergencies. Local elected and appointed officials are aligned and prepared to respond appropriately. We are fortunate in our communities to have a robust network of social service agencies and other advocates ready and willing to stand up on a moment’s notice.”

Both community leaders said they will continue to communicate with residents regarding this issue.