Florida governor defends immigration flight to Martha’s Vineyard, offers more advice

Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Sept. 16 (Reuters) – Florida’s Republican governor on Friday served as a testament to his efforts to transport dozens of migrants from Texas to the wealthy resort island of Martha’s Vineyard. The decision defended and said similar action could be taken on the eve of the US election in November as the political dispute over border security deepens.

DeSantis claimed Wednesday that two charter flights transported about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a broader effort by Republicans to shift responsibility for border crossings to Democratic leaders.

At a news conference in Daytona Beach, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused Democratic President Joe Biden of failing to stop migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, arresting a record 1.8 million this fiscal year. people.

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DeSantis said the Florida legislature set aside $12 million to transport migrants out of the state, and his administration may use the funds “to protect Florida.”

“There may be more flights, there may be buses,” he said to cheers and applause from supporters in the crowd.

In September, the state paid aviation company Vertol Systems Company Inc $615,000. Florida data shows the program went into effect Aug. 8 as part of the Unauthorized Alien Relocation Program. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The flight to Martha’s Vineyard was made under the efforts of another Republican, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has since April moved to the Democratic-controlled Cities such as Washington, New York and Chicago sent more than 10,000 immigrants. Arizona’s Republican governor also sent more than 1,800 immigrants to Washington.

Unlike those major cities, the island south of Boston is home to about 20,000 residents year-round and is known as a vacation destination for wealthy liberals like former Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.read more

On Martha’s Vineyard on Friday morning, a vehicle organized by Republican and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a group of mostly Venezuelans, including six children, boarded a group of immigrants bound for Cape Cod. Ferry bus. He said they would be temporarily housed at the Cape Cod military base.

The scene brought tears to the eyes of some islanders who volunteered to shelter them in the church for two nights. Locals gather to donate money, toiletries and toys for migrants. A local thrift store donated clean clothes, restaurants took turns organizing meals, and pro bono attorneys flew in to help immigrants with paperwork and immigration cases.

“I want them to have a good life,” said Lisa Belcastro, who helps organize cribs and supplies in St. Petersburg. Andrews Anglican Church, housed in an expensive white clapboard house in Edgartown. “I want them to come to America and be hugged. They all want to work.”

Venezuelan migrants stand outside St. Petersburg. St Andrew’s Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, USA on September 14, 2022. Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

‘Like chattels’

DeSantis, who is running for re-election in November and is often mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, said his administration brought immigrants from Texas, not his own, to the island for vacation because many Immigrants arriving in Florida are from Texas.

Aside from DeSantis and Abbott’s re-election bids, November’s midterm elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

Under the COVID-19 Pandemic Policy, many immigrants entering the United States through the Southwest border are immediately deported to Mexico or other countries. But some nationalities, including Venezuelans, cannot be deported because Mexico will not accept them, and many have sought U.S. asylum.

The White House condemned the efforts of the Republican governor, saying immigration was used as a political stunt.

“These are kids. They’re moms. They’re fleeing communism. What did Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott do to them? They treat them like political pawns and treat them like chattels,” the White House press secretary said. Karin Jean-Pierre at a press conference on Friday.

The legal basis for the Florida government to round up immigrants in different states remains unclear. A Biden administration official told Reuters that U.S. government lawyers were exploring possible lawsuits surrounding the governor’s efforts.

Migrants who flew to Martha’s Vineyard said they had recently entered the United States on humanitarian parole after fleeing Venezuela and had been living in a shelter in San Antonio, Texas, at the time by a man calling himself “Perla.”

They said the woman persuaded them to board the plane, misleading them into thinking they were going to Boston and would get help with housing and finding work within three months.

Many said they told those organizing the flights that they had made an appointment with immigration authorities and that they needed to attend in other cities, said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, director of Civil Rights Lawyers, a Boston-based group that assists immigrants. ) Say.

“The organisers of the programme said ‘don’t worry, this will be taken care of'” he said.

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Reporting by Jonathan Allen in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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