Carroll County Times Opinion

Chris Roemer: Martha’s Vineyard’s response masks the truth about border policy | COMMENTARY

Folks on Martha’s Vineyard are pretty pleased with themselves for how kindly they treated the 50 illegal migrants who recently visited their island for a few days.

For those unfamiliar with Martha’s Vineyard, it’s a Massachusetts island off Cape Cod comprised of six separate communities. Million-dollar homes are par for the course on this homogenous enclave of privilege.


James Hagerty is the town administrator of Edgartown, one of the island’s six towns. Concerning Edgartown’s response to the crisis of having 50 unexpected guests this summer, Hagerty reflected on how hard life has been on the island recently.

“We’ve been through COVID,” he said. “We’ve been through hurricanes; we’ve been through this; we’ve been through a lot of things imaginable for a small community and every one of those we’ve risen up as the Vineyard, ‘cause we’re resilient,” he said.


I never realized just how difficult life is on Martha’s Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard has a year-round population of about 17,000 residents. That number swells to 200,000 people during the summer. Obviously, there’s a lot of capacity on the island to house a lot of people, so one wouldn’t think 50 additional folks would be that hard to accommodate.

But everyone agreed. The migrants had to go. Being nice to these folks and providing them a few meals and articles of clothing is one thing, but allowing them to stay more than just a couple days is simply impossible.

A Venezuelan migrant reacts as he is led onto a bus at St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on the island of Martha’ s Vineyard.

However, before “deporting” their honored guests to a military base on Cape Cod, the people of Martha’s Vineyard made one more conscience-soothing gesture. Every migrant who needed one, was given a cellphone with a U.S.-based number, and everyone got a $50 Visa gift card.

With gifts in hand, the migrants were then sent on their way.

Now that the migrants are where they belong – elsewhere – the residents of Martha’s Vineyard can return their focus to the visitors who actually pay thousands of dollars a week to stay there, but before they do, they are taking a moment to pat each other on the back for being such good people.

Actually, now that it has firsthand experience taking care of 50 people, Martha’s Vineyard has the practical knowledge to host 50 more. I mean, why not?

The island has the housing capacity, it has the financial resources, and now it has the know-how.


President Obama’s $11 million, 6,892-square-foot home alone sits on a 29-acre waterfront estate. Before the guest list was pared back at the last minute because of COVID concerns, the former president planned an extravagant celebration to mark his 60th birthday, with 475 invited guests. Talk about logistics.

The median house price on the island is $1.3 million.

Why shouldn’t the island take 50 more migrants? Whatever infrastructure residents think they need, they have the financial wherewithal to build it. It’s just a matter of will, and it seems to me, they should want to do their fair share.

No? I guess these unfortunate souls need to stay in Texas where they belong. The people of Martha’s Vineyard have done their bit.

It’s easy to be generous when you give out of an abundance, especially when you know your generosity is ultimately buying something you want. In the case of Martha’s Vineyard, what the residents bought was their ability to live migrant-free. It was worth the investment, plus they can now virtue signal about how special they are.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, the communities there simply don’t have the same resources available to them to liberate themselves from the burden of, not 50 migrants, but thousands who arrive daily on their doorstep.


Let’s be honest: This whole situation is absurdly surreal. Presently, we’ve got more than 2 million people a year coming across the southern border, yet our vice president looks us in the eye and tells us the border is secure.

Apparently, Democrats don’t mind being misled. They continue to defend the president and delude themselves into believing whatever is wrong down there is ex-president Donald Trump’s fault.

Progressives are screaming about the inhumanity of sending a few busloads of migrants to northern cities – northern sanctuary cities – while at the same time enabling an entire criminal enterprise to flourish, which brings millions of people to the southern border under the most cruel conditions.

You’ve seen the videos. Maybe you haven’t. This is a story many news outlets spend very little time covering.

People are crossing the Rio Grande in groups numbering in the hundreds. Thousands of migrants everyday. Migrants are found stuffed in car trunks and packed in the back of tractor trailers. Some are found floating dead in the river. Earlier this month, nine migrants were found drowned after trying to cross at Eagle Pass in Texas. In fact, the number of dead at the border this year is the highest it’s ever been, according to a Department of Homeland Security report shared with CNN.

Add to that, estimates are nearly a third of the woman and children making the trip north are sexually assaulted along the way, according to a 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders.


Finally, the crush of migrants is being used as a diversion by drug cartels to facilitate the trafficking of Fentanyl into the United States. Fentanyl is flooding across the southern border in record quantities killing American citizens by the thousands, according to the Department of Justice.

Yet, it’s governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas who are inhumane?

I don’t blame President Joe Biden, his surrogates or his party for making patently false claims concerning the state of things at the border because the truth is, there are millions of Americans who seem only too happy to believe them.

To be honest, I think most Democrats know better but feel strangely obligated somehow to come to the defense of the president and his party no matter how obviously wrong they are. So they turn their eyes away from the human tragedy playing out at the southern border, pretending it’s something it’s not, and react angrily whenever confronted with facts that challenge their self-serving chimeric vision of the world.

This is the real reason why a few dozen migrants on Martha’s Vineyard is so disturbing to Democrats. It forces them to reckon with things as they really are, and they are appallingly bad, and the policies Democrats champion are to blame, no matter how many Visa gift cards they distribute.

Chris Roemer is a retired banker and educator who resides in Finksburg. He can be contacted at