Florida Governor Ron DeSantis campaigns for Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance during an event run by Turning Point Motion in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S., August 19, 2022.
Gaelen Morse | Reuters
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to attract attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration’s failed border policies.
Flights to the upscale island enclave in Massachusetts were a part of an effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” said Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director.
While DeSantis’ office didn’t elaborate on their legal status, many migrants who cross the border illegally from Mexico 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.
Massachusetts’ Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said he was in contact with local officials and that short-term shelter was being provided.
State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, tweeted: “Our island jumped into motion putting together 50 beds, giving everyone a very good meal, providing a play area for the youngsters, ensuring people have the healthcare and support they need. We’re a community that comes together to support immigrants.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began busing 1000’s of migrants to Washington in April and recently added Latest York and Chicago as destinations. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has been busing migrants to Washington since May. Passengers must sign waivers that the free trips are voluntary.
DeSantis, who’s mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, appears to be taking the technique to a recent level through the use of planes and selecting Martha’s Vineyard, whose harbor towns which are home to about 15,000 persons are far less prepared than Latest York or Washington for giant influxes of migrants.
The move is more likely to delight DeSantis’ supporters who deride Democrat-led, immigrant-friendly “sanctuary” cities and anger critics who say he’s weaponizing migrants as pawns for political gain.
The Florida Legislature appropriated $12 million to move “illegal immigrants” from the state consistent with federal law, Fenske said.
“States like Massachusetts, Latest York, and California will higher facilitate the care of those individuals who they’ve invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden Administration’s open border policies,” Fenske said.