September 26, 2022

Florida Governor Protects Migratory Flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Recommends Visit

MARTHAS VINEYARD, Mass., Sept 16 (Reuters) – Florida’s Republican governor on Friday defended his decision to deport dozens of migrants from Texas to the wealthy vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard, saying similar moves could follow amid a political dispute over border security. Ahead of the US elections in November.

DeSantis on Wednesday claimed ownership of a pair of chartered planes that carried about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a broader Republican effort to shift responsibility for border crossings to Democratic leaders.

At a news conference in Daytona Beach, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed Democratic President Joe Biden for failing to stop migrants from crossing the US-Mexico border, where 1.8 million have been apprehended this fiscal year.

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DeSantis said the Florida Legislature appropriated $12 million to transport immigrants out of the state and that his administration could use the funds to “protect Florida.”

“There could be more planes, there could be buses,” he told the crowd to cheers and applause from supporters.

The government paid $615,000 to aviation business Vertol Systems Company Inc on Sept. 8 as part of an “unauthorized alien relocation program.” The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The flights to Martha’s Vineyard follow another Republican bus initiative by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, which has sent more than 10,000 immigrants to the Democratic-controlled cities of Washington, New York and Chicago since April. Arizona’s Republican governor has also sent more than 1,800 immigrants to Washington.

Unlike those major cities, the island south of Boston has about 20,000 year-round residents and is known as a vacation spot for affluent liberals like former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. read more

On Friday morning in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants, including a half-dozen children from Venezuela, boarded buses en route to a ferry to Cape Cod in a transport organized by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. They will be temporarily housed at the Cape Cod military base, he said.

Some of the islanders who volunteered to stay in the church for two nights were moved to tears. Local people came together to donate money, toiletries and toys to the migrants. A local thrift store donated clean clothes, restaurants took turns arranging meals, and pro-bono lawyers flew in to help immigrants with paperwork and immigration cases.

“I want them to have a good life,” said Lisa Belcastro, who helped arrange beds and supplies at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which sits among expensive white clapboard houses in Edgartown. “I want them to come to America and be embraced, and they all want to work.”

Venezuelan immigrants stand outside St. Andrew’s Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on September 14, 2022. REUTERS/File photo by Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/Handout

‘like a shaker’

DeSantis, who is running for re-election in November and is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, said many of the immigrants coming to Florida were immigrants from Texas who went to the island, not from his home state. Texas.

In addition to the re-election efforts of DeSantis and Abbott, the November midterm elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

Many immigrants entering the U.S. through the Southwest border are immediately deported to Mexico or other countries under the COVID-19 pandemic policy. But Mexico does not accept certain nationalities, including Venezuelans, and cannot deport many as they seek to apply for U.S. asylum.

The White House has rejected efforts by Republican governors, who say the immigrants are being used as political stunts.

“These are children. They are mothers. They fled communism. What did Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott do to them? They used them as political pawns, treated them like chattel,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said. Friday press conference.

The legal basis for the Florida government to round up immigrants in another state is unclear. A Biden administration official told Reuters that U.S. government prosecutors are investigating potential lawsuits over the governor’s efforts.

The migrants, who were visiting Martha’s Vineyard, were admitted to the United States on humanitarian parole after fleeing Venezuela and were staying at a shelter in San Antonio, Texas, when they were approached by a woman who identified herself as “Perla,” they said. “

The woman tricked them into thinking they were going to Boston and forced them to board flights, they said, and were offered three months of accommodation and help finding jobs.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group that helps immigrants, said many said those who arranged the flights were told they would have to meet with immigration officials in other cities.

“The organizers of this project should not worry, it 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 Hessen and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Christina Cook in San Francisco; Editing by Micah Rosenberg and Jonathan Otis

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