One Question on This Week's Migrant Moves: Who's Perla?

Democrats want to know what new arrivals were told before being sent to Martha's Vineyard, DC
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2022 8:40 AM CDT
One Question on This Week's Migrant Moves: Who's Perla?
Volunteers prepare food for immigrants outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Thursday Sept. 15, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.   (Ron Schloerb/Cape Cod Times via AP)

Immigration re-entered the national conversation in a big way this week thanks to high-profile moves by GOP Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas. DeSantis sent two planeloads of newly arrived migrants to Martha's Vineyard, while Abbott shipped two busloads of people to the DC residence of Kamala Harris. The fallout:

  • Litigation? Axios reports that White House officials were discussing possible "litigation options" against Republican governors who make such moves. For months now, DeSantis and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona have been regularly sending buses of migrants to Democratic-run cites such as New York and Chicago, as well as DC. This comes amid sky-high numbers of arrivals of migrants at the border, roughly 8,500 a day.
  • The arguments: Democrats accuse the governors of political stunts. “Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props,” said President Biden Thursday night, per the New York Times. “What they’re doing is simply wrong, it’s un-American, it’s reckless.” Republicans, though, say the moves raise legit questions amid record-high border numbers. "Right now Arizona and Texas and a few others take the whole burden, and other states ought to take their fair share,” said Sen. Mitt Romney. That Romney, a frequent critic of Donald Trump, is on board is a sign of how united Republicans are on immigration, per the Hill.

  • Questions: One thing Democrats are looking into is whether migrants were deceived before they boarded their planes and buses. The Times reports that several of the migrants sent by DeSantis were "approached by a woman named 'Perla' who offered them seats on planes to Massachusetts but did not say they would be landing on a remote island." Some reportedly thought they were headed to Boston. These migrants, mostly from Venezuela, were approached soon after being cleared by Border Patrol authorities in Texas. It's not clear how many, or if any, of the DeSantis group were ever in Florida at all. The Miami Herald has more on that.
  • Questions, II: California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants the Justice Department to investigate exactly what the migrants were told. “Transporting families, including children, across state lines under false pretenses is morally reprehensible, but it may also be illegal,” Newsom wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, per the AP. He even floated the possibility of kidnapping and "civil rights conspiracy" charges.
  • From the right: A post at the Federalist characterizes the Democratic response as "Left-Wingers Melt Down Over Diversity" in its headline. Writer Tristan Justice takes note of criticism of the Martha's Vineyard move in particular from MSNBC exec Jesse Rodriguez. "If Rodriguez thinks 50 migrants landing in a community where the median home sale price is north of $1.3 million (is bad), perhaps the network executive might benefit from a trip to the southern border where about 140 times that number of immigrants flood Texas cities daily," writes Justice.
  • A counter: At New York, Jonathan Chait writes that the quick and compassionate response of Martha's Vineyard locals to the arrivals is a direct refutation of what DeSantis supporters predicted would happen. But "conservative media simply responded as if rich liberals had acted in the way (DeSantis) anticipated."
(Read more immigration stories.)

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