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YOUR OPINION: Immigrants welcomed with open arms

September 22, 2022 at 3:15 a.m.

Shelley Swoyer,

Jefferson City

Dear Editor,

Once again, Jim Dyke's political cartoon misses the mark. I can almost hear him snickering at the idea of the planeload of migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard that he depicts in his Sept. 20 cartoon. Clearly, Dyke knows only half the story.

While true that Martha's Vineyard is home to many wealthy vacationers and part-time residents, beautiful beaches and spectacular houses, there is another Martha's Vineyard that is the real story here. The year-round population of Martha's Vineyard is made up primarily of farmers and fishermen who, along with summer service workers, often have a difficult time scrabbling out a living after the tourists leave. One third of the island schoolchildren qualify for free and reduced lunches, and 1 in 6 year-round residents is registered at the local food pantry. Free suppers are served almost every night by local churches during the winter months.

And yet, these were the people opening their hearts and homes to the migrants, who, with no advance notice, quickly set up a small shelter and organized volunteers to meet and assist the migrants. They provided food, clothing, inflatable beds, toiletries and toys for the incoming families. They found interpreters who spoke Spanish to communicate with and assure the new arrivals. The folks in Martha's Vineyard welcomed the stranger, fed him and clothed him.

The immigrants arrived in Martha's Vineyard, a place surely most had never heard of, because they were told jobs and housing awaited them. Of course, that wasn't true. They were flown there to make a political point, to be the butt of a cruel joke. They were welcomed, though, with love and kindness.

Most of us truly have no idea what life must be like for immigrants and refugees. How terrible must life be to uproot one's family, to leave home, language and culture behind in hope of finding a better life. Martha's Vineyard showed us how to respond with a generous spirit.

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