- Nathan Williams & Bernd Debusmann Jr.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent two planes with some 50 undocumented Venezuelan and Colombian immigrants to the luxurious island of Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States.
In a statement, the Florida government said the move is part of the state’s program to send undocumented migrants to so-called “sanctuary destinations”places in the US where the authorities do not cooperate with the immigration officials who deport the undocumented.
This appears to be an escalation in the plan of some Republican-ruled states, such as Texas and Florida, to send immigrants to Democratic territories.
Martha’s Vineyardin the state of Massachusetts, is a tourist center and a traditional summer destination for billionaires and celebrities.
The island, with a population of around 20,000, was the setting for Steven Spielberg’s classic film “Jaws” (1975).
The former president of the United States Barack Obama is among those who have vacation homes in the area.
DeSantis considered a success the fact that he had sent this fifty migrants to Massachusetts.
“Florida can confirm that the two planes carrying illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” Governor DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a statement Thursday. release.
The migrants, including children, were mostly Venezuelans but there were also ColombiansSheryl Taylor, one of the coordinators of the translators who are assisting the migrants, informed the local Vineyard’s Gazette.
They arrived around 3 p.m. (7 p.m. GMT) Wednesday without warning, according to local Massachusetts state legislature Senator Julian Cyr (Democrat), who represents Martha’s Vineyard.
Officials and volunteers then “moved heaven and earth” to develop a response like they would have “in the event of a hurricane,” he said. The migrants were given food and clothing, in addition to being tested for covid.
Many didn’t know where they were, according to Dylan Fernandes, a Democratic representative in the local Massachusetts legislature. They had been told in Florida that they would be given housing and jobs, he said.
On Twitter, Fernandes described DeSantis’ move as an “evil and inhumane” plot to use “human lives, men, women and children, as political pawns.”
In recent months, states like Texas and Arizona, on the border with Mexico, have sent thousands of migrants to cities like Chicago, New York and Washington DC, which they accuse of encouraging illegal migration by not fully enforcing laws. .
This Thursday, just one day after the migrants arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, two buses full of migrants from Texas, with between 75 and 100 people, arrived near the home from Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington D.C.
In the images shown on Fox News, two buses were seen arriving near the residence and migrants, mostly from Venezuela, collecting their belongings and standing in the vicinity.
Later a non-governmental organization arrived and allegedly transported them to a nearby church.
“Harris claims our border is ‘secure’ (and) denies the crisis,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott later wrote on Twitter. “We are sending immigrants to his backyard to ask the Biden administration to do its job and secure the border,” he added.
Places like “Massachusetts, New York and California” will serve migrants better, DeSantis’ director of communications said in a statement.
Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis’s re-election campaign, said Martha’s Vineyard should be “delighted.”
“They vote for sanctuary cities: they get a sanctuary city of their own. And illegal aliens will add to the diversity of the city, which is a virtue. Right?”
Aleksander Cuic, an attorney and director of the Immigration Counsel at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said that while he believes efforts to relocate immigrants in this way will be legally challenged, it is not yet clear what laws are violated, and even if there are any that are being violated.
“The big question is what are the migrants told and is there any kind of fraud or incentive,” he told the BBC. “But how would anyone know if there is nothing in writing? It could be that (migrants) are willing to say they will leave if there are jobs and opportunities.”
Cuic added that authorities in Texas and Florida are likely to argue that they “are doing the same thing” as the government, which regularly moves detained immigrants around the country.
DeSantis had previously cited Martha’s Vineyard as a possible destination for migrants sent out of state, telling reporters last year that if that were done, “the border would be secure the next day.”
This year, representatives from Florida allocated $12 million to the transfer of migrants.
DeSantis, a fierce opponent of mandatory masks and vaccines during the pandemic, was first elected in 2018 and has since become one of the most admired governors in the country among Republican Party members.
He is widely seen by Republicans as a natural successor to former President Donald Trump, who has also criticized “sanctuary cities.”
It’s unclear how many immigrants Florida plans to send to other states.
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