DeSantis Flies 50 Migrants to Martha's Vineyard

Critics slam Florida governor's move as a stunt
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2022 6:57 AM CDT
DeSantis Sends 50 Migrants to Martha's Vineyard
A woman holds a child as they're fed outside St. Andrew's Church on Wednesday in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.   (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

Ron DeSantis has joined the leagues of Republican governors who've transported migrants to Democratic states, though the people he sent didn't arrive by train but by chartered plane—a total surprise to the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, which quickly pulled together to assist the confused and tired group. "Martha's Vineyard Community Services had 50 people sort of literally walk up to their front door," Barbara Rush of St. Andrew's Church tells CBS News, which notes the dozens of men, women, and children, who'd been told they would be given housing and jobs, had walked about 3 miles from the airport after landing. Staffers at the community services center and volunteers administered COVID testing for the group; brought pizza, salad, soup, water, and clothing in; and made temporary sleeping arrangements at the church, per the Cape Cod Times.

"Our island jumped into action," Massachusetts State Rep. Dylan Fernandes wrote online. "We are a community that comes together to support immigrants." It's not clear if the group actually came from DeSantis' home state: The migrants, who mostly appear to be from Venezuela and don't speak English, have indicated through interpreters that they started their day in San Antonio, Texas, per the New York Times. But DeSantis is definitely taking credit for their relocation, part of Florida's $12 million program to transport undocumented immigrants to "blue" destinations. "States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as 'sanctuary states,'" DeSantis said in a statement conceding he'd arranged for the migrants to be brought to the island.

GOP Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have similarly transported migrants to destinations in the Northeast, including DC and New York City, part of their protest against the Biden administration's immigration and border security policies. But as the residents of Martha's Vineyard helped after this latest move by DeSantis, scrambling for resources despite the lack of notice, others slammed the Florida governor for what they say was a political stunt that used people as pawns. "History does not look kindly on leaders who treat human beings like cargo, loading them up and sending them a thousand miles away without telling them their destination," US Rep. Bill Keating tweeted late Wednesday. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is said to be in touch with local island officials on the migrants' arrangements. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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