Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies.
Republican governors are escalating their practice of sending migrants without advance warning to Democratic strongholds, including a wealthy summer enclave in Massachusetts and the home of Vice President Kamala Harris, to taunt leaders of immigrant-friendly “sanctuary” cities and highlight their opposition to Biden administration border policies, AP reports.
The governors of Texas and Arizona have sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., in recent months, but the latest surprise moves – which included two flights to Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday paid for by Florida – were derided by critics as inhumane political theater.
Upon their arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, where former President Barack Obama has a home, the migrants who were predominantly from Venezuela were provided with meals, shelter, healthcare and information about where to find work.
“We are a community that comes together to support immigrants,” said State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents the vacation island south of Boston whose year-round residents include many blue-collar workers.
Lawyers for Civil Rights, based in Boston, said it was providing free legal services — and investigating whether Florida’s governor may have violated human trafficking laws if it turns out any migrants were sent against their will or duped into taking the flights.
Domingo Garcia, the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said that some of the migrants sent on buses from Texas to Washington, D.C. on Thursday were “tricked” — an allegation that AP has not confirmed and that officials in Texas and Arizona have denied.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes to Martha’s Vineyard in what his office said was part of an effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.” The Florida Legislature has earmarked $12 million to transport “unauthorized aliens” out of state.
While DeSantis’ office didn’t elaborate on their legal status, many who cross the border illegally are temporarily shielded from deportation after being freed by U.S. authorities to pursue asylum in immigration court — as allowed under U.S law and international treaty — or released on humanitarian parole.
DeSantis’ office didn’t answer questions about where migrants boarded planes and how they were coaxed into making the trip.
Massachusetts state Sen. Julian Cyr told The Vineyard Gazette that one plane originated in San Antonio, raising questions about whether migrants ever set foot in Florida. Flight tracking data shows a flight originated in San Antonio, stopped in Crestview, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina, before landing in Martha’s Vineyard.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the arrival of two buses of migrants from Texas early Thursday outside Harris’ residence at the United States Naval Observatory. They carried more than 100 migrants from the Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.
“The Biden-Harris administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years,” said Abbott, who has poured billions of taxpayer dollars into making border security a signature issue.
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