Democrats are suffering meltdowns on social media after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for sending two planeloads of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Deepening a war with the Biden administration and Democratic states over immigration ahead of the November elections, Republican governors escalated their campaign to transport migrants across the country.
Republican governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gregg Abbott of Texas were the actors with the latest moves, both of whom transported migrants from the southern border to Democratic strongholds. While DeSantis directed at least one plane carrying dozens of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, two buses of migrants were sent by Abbott to a location near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington.
The Florida governor’s move sparked accusations from Democrats that Republicans are politicizing immigration without recognizing the harm their moves are causing migrant families. The move also sparked local and state emergency responses in Massachusetts.
“Legal authorities are looking into whether or not there is criminal liability,” said a Democrat whose state has also seen an influx of migrants bused from the border, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, for sending people without notice to the city or state where they’re being sent, said Politico.
Democrats said the Florida governor had gone too far as the decision by DeSantis to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a summer enclave for the nation’s elite, drew particularly rebuke from Democrats. Dylan Fernandes, a Democratic state representative whose district includes Martha’s Vineyard, said: “I think it’s incredibly inhumane to use human beings as political pawns — put them on a plane and ship them like cattle. Governor DeSantis is a coward.”
Just months ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, these moves by the Republican governors came as it happens. For many Republicans, including in Texas and Florida, where DeSantis and Abbott are seeking reelection, immigration continues to be a hot-button issue.
To drum up support, this way the governors are using immigration is reminiscent of how in 2018, Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, used the migrant caravans from Central America to stoke fear in an effort to keep their congressional majority. Months of similar transports from Abbott are followed by the Republican governors’ actions recently, as he has sent thousands of migrants from the southern border to blue cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington.
The Republican-led Florida Legislature was convinced by DeSantis this year, to set aside $12 million to fund attempts to move migrants to other states. The governor is also prepared to bus undocumented immigrants to Biden’s home state of Delaware, as he says. DeSantis defended the move during a press conference in Florida, to send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, saying the state is helping “facilitate” those who want to go to what he called a “sanctuary jurisdiction.”
Yet, the governor characterized the situation far from what it was on the ground in Martha’s Vineyard. Lisa Belcastro, director of the Harbor Homes Winter Shelter on the island that is home to about 17,000 residents during the off-season, said: “None of them wanted to come to Martha’s Vineyard. They’ve never heard of Martha’s Vineyard.”