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Two western Mass. communities say phony calls advised that busloads of migrants were on their way

Northampton City Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Jerrey Roberts
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
Northampton City Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The local governments of Northampton and Amherst, Massachusetts, say calls indicating busloads of migrants were on their way from Texas turned out to be phony.

But officials still developed contingency plans. The notifications came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard.

The calls to Northampton and Amherst came in Thursday morning. The caller claimed to be in the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and said the communities were chosen because they are sanctuary cities — communities that decline to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Brianna Sunryd, a spokesperson for the town of Amherst, said community leaders worked with immigrant advocates and social service agencies to develop a response.

"We were looking at potential translation and interpretation, medical assessments and tests and who could perform them, food, shelter," she said.

Sunryd said by the end of the day, the communities had determined the calls were bogus, but they now feel in a better place to respond if migrants are actually bused there.

In a joint statement issued Friday, Northampton and Amherst discussed their readiness.

"Our communities have well-established systems in place to respond to emergencies," it said. "Local elected and appointed officials are aligned and prepared to respond appropriately. And 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."

As for whether Abbott has any plans to send migrants to Northampton and Amherst, a spokesperson for the governor said, "We are still only busing to DC, NYC, and Chicago."

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education, and politics. Working with correspondent Morley Safer, he reported from locations across the United States as well as from India, Costa Rica, Italy, and Iraq.
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