Florida governor defends migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard, suggests more to come

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MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Massachusetts, Sept. 16 (Reuters) – Florida’s Republican governor on Friday defended his decision to fly dozens of migrants from Texas to the wealthy vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard, saying similar actions could follow as a political dispute over border security engrossed in the run-up to the US election in November.

DeSantis on Wednesday claimed credit for a pair of charter flights carrying about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a wider Republican effort to shift responsibility for border crossings to Democratic leaders.

At a news conference in Daytona Beach, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis blamed Democratic President Joe Biden for what he portrayed as a failure to stop migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as this fiscal year sets a record of 1.8 million has been arrested.

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DeSantis said the Florida legislature set aside $12 million to transport migrants out of the state and his administration would likely use the money “to protect Florida.”

“There could be more flights, there could be buses,” he said to cheers and applause from supporters in the crowd.

The state paid $615,000 to Vertol Systems Company Inc, an aviation company, on Sept. 8 as part of an “unauthorized alien relocation program,” Florida state data shows. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The flights to Martha’s Vineyard follow a bus effort by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, another Republican, who has sent more than 10,000 migrants to the Democrat-controlled cities of Washington, New York and Chicago since April. The Republican governor of Arizona has also sent more than 1,800 migrants to Washington.

Unlike those major cities, the island south of Boston is home to about 20,000 year-round residents and is known as a vacation spot for affluent liberals like former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. read more

On Friday morning in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants, a group of mostly Venezuelans including half a dozen children, boarded buses bound for a ferry to Cape Cod in transportation organized by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican. He said they would be temporarily housed at a military base in Cape Cod.

The scene left some islanders in tears who volunteered to protect them in a church for two nights. Local residents had gathered to donate money, toiletries and toys for the migrants. A local thrift store donated clean clothes, restaurants took turns organizing meals, and pro-bono lawyers flew in to help the migrants with paperwork and immigration matters.

“I want them to have a good life,” said Lisa Belcastro, who helped organize cots and supplies at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, which sits among expensive white-shingled houses in Edgartown. “I want them to come to America and be embraced. They all want to work.”

Venezuelan migrants stand outside St. Andrew’s Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, USA Sept. 14, 2022. Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

‘LIKE CHATTEL’

DeSantis, who is up for re-election in November and is often mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, said his administration flew the migrants from Texas, not his own state, to the island because many of the migrants arriving in Florida are from Texas. .

In addition to DeSantis and Abott’s reelection bids, November’s midterm elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

Many migrants entering the United States through the southwest border are immediately expelled to Mexico or other countries under a COVID-19 pandemic policy. But some nationalities, including Venezuelans, cannot be deported because Mexico will not accept them and many are seeking asylum from the US.

The White House has rejected the efforts of Republican governors and says migrants were used for a political stunt.

“These were children. They were mothers. They were fleeing communism. And what did Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott do with them? They used them as political pawns, treated them as movable property,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, press secretary of the White House. press conference on Friday.

The legal basis for the Florida government to detain migrants in another state remained unclear. US government attorneys are investigating possible lawsuits over the governors’ efforts, a Biden administration official told Reuters.

The migrants who flew to Martha’s Vineyard said they had recently been granted humanitarian parole in the United States after fleeing Venezuela, and had been staying at a shelter in San Antonio, Texas, when they were approached by a woman calling herself identified as “Perla.”

The woman persuaded them to board by tricking them into thinking they were going to Boston and would receive shelter and help finding work for three months, they said.

Many said they told the people organizing the flights that they had arrangements with immigration authorities to attend in other cities, said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, a group in Boston that assists the migrants.

“The organizers of this program said, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be taken care of,'” he said.

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Reporting by Jonathan Allen in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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