Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is boasting about sending two planes full of undocumented immigrants, including children, to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Wednesday, apparently just to make a point about liberal immigration policies.
The flights reportedly didn’t even originate in Florida but rather Texas, and the migrants weren’t told where they were going and were wooed with promises of expedited work papers, NPR reported.
"She offered us help. Help that never arrived," 30-year-old Andres Duarte, from Venezuela, told NPR about a woman who identified herself as “Perla.”
The woman approached the migrants outside of a shelter in San Antonio where they were staying and said the flights would take them to Boston, NPR reported.
"Now we are here. We got on the plane with a vision of the future, of making it,” Duarte added.
The planes arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, a popular tourist destination, especially for the wealthy, in Massachusetts, around 3:15 p.m Wednesday, according to NPR. The flights originated in San Antonio, however, and only made a layover stop in Florida (and then South Carolina) before heading to Massachusetts, NPR reported.
“States like Massachusetts… 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’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” a spokesperson for DeSantis told Fox News, which published exclusive video showing the migrants deboarding one of the planes.
Florida’s budget that passed earlier this year included $12 million for an “immigrant relocation program,” and DeSantis had said he would bus undocumented people to locations such as Delaware, President Joe Biden’s home state.
But last month DeSantis said the state hadn’t started because the Biden administration had stopped sending undocumented people to Florida. Texas has also been busing undocumented people to cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
“The governor of one of the biggest states in the nation has been spending time hatching a secret plot to round up and ship people—children, families—lying to them about where they’re going just to gain cheap political points on Tucker Calrson and MAGA Twitter,” Massachusetts state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat who represents the area, tweeted Wednesday.
“It's fucking depraved.”
Local officials told multiple outlets that the migrants had no idea where they were when they landed.
“We have talked to a number of people who've asked, 'Where am I?'” Bruce McNamee, the police chief in Edgartown, told NPR. “And then I was trying to explain where Martha's Vineyard is.”
The majority of the migrants DeSantis’ office put on the plane are from Venezuela, according to the New York Times. They’ve been provided with food and other supplies by the local community and are staying in a shelter at a local church, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is in touch with local officials regarding the arrival of migrants in Martha’s Vineyard,” a spokesperson for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, told VICE News. “At this time, short-term shelter services are being provided by local officials, and the Administration will continue to support those efforts.”
State Sen. Julian Cyr, a Democrat who represents the area, compared DeSantis’ stunt to the “fundamentally racist tactics” used by segregationists in 1962, when they tricked nearly 100 Black families into moving to Hyannis, Massachusetts, apparently to prove racism was just as prevalent in the North as it was in the South.
“This is deeply disgusting,” Cyr told the Martha’s Vineyard Times. “This is a cruel ruse that manipulates families that are seeking a better life.”
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