Yarmouth, MA

Unexpected migrant arrivals arouse fear in Cape Cod town

Tracey Folly

Unexpectedly, several migrant families, at least six of which are from Haiti, arrived in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, late Sunday evening. The sudden arrival, with limited notice from the state, has led local officials, including Town Administrator Robert Whritenour, to express their concerns.

In a letter addressed to Gov. Maura Healey, the town's Select Board recommended against housing the migrants at the Yarmouth Resort motel. This particular location has been highlighted by officials as problematic due to a lack of an occupancy permit and currently being under a cease-and-desist order.

The ongoing situation has intensified existing issues in Yarmouth, with Whritenour attributing part of the strain to the state's inconsistent communication with the town.

“It's a fluid process with them day-to-day. They often neglect or forget to contact the local municipal officials," Whritenour said.

He went on to describe the atmosphere as particularly tense, noting that both local and state officials have faced public criticism. "It's been brutal, quite frankly, in terms of a lot of vitriol that has been directed towards local officials, towards state officials, towards federal officials. And honestly, I think a lot of people are fearful," Whritenour continued.

While the exact number of migrants currently in Yarmouth remains uncertain, the urgency and concerns of the community are palpable. Gov. Healey's office, when approached by NBC10 Boston for specifics on the migrant count in Yarmouth, did not provide a response.

Public gatherings have become commonplace outside the Town Hall and the hotel accommodating the migrants. A recent town meeting on the matter extended for five hours and was marked by its intensity, with one woman being asked to leave. At the heart of residents' apprehensions are questions about the financial implications, specifically concerning health care, education, and overall communication.

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