Florida governor defends migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard, suggests more to come

Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Sep 16 (Reuters) – Florida’s Republican governor on Friday defended his decision to fly dozens of migrants from Texas to the wealthy holiday island of Martha’s Vineyard, and said similar action would be taken at border security. As a political dispute may deepen. In the wake of the US elections in November.

DeSantis claimed credit on Wednesday for a pair of chartered flights that carried nearly 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a broader Republican effort to shift responsibility for border crossings to Democratic leaders. was in the form.

At a news conference in Daytona Beach, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis blamed Democratic President Joe Biden for his failure to stop migrants from crossing the US-Mexico border as a record 1.8 million died this fiscal year. has been arrested.

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DeSantis said the Florida Legislature has set aside $12 million to move migrants out of state and that his government will likely use the money “to protect Florida.”

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

Florida state data shows that the state paid $615,000 to Vertol Systems Co., Inc., an aviation business, on September 8 as part of its “relocation program for unauthorized aliens.” The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The flights to Martha’s Vineyard follow a bus effort by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, another Republican, that has sent more than 10,000 migrants to the Democrat-controlled cities of Washington, New York and Chicago since April. Arizona’s Republican governor has also sent more than 1,800 migrants to Washington.

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

On Friday morning at Martha’s Vineyard, a group of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, including half a dozen children, boarded buses en route to a ferry to Cape Cod in transport organized by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican. He said he would be temporarily housed at a Cape Cod military base.

The scene left some of the island’s residents who voluntarily sheltered him in tears in a church for two nights. Locals came together to donate money, toiletries and toys for the migrants. A local thrift shop donated clean clothes, restaurants organized turn-by-turn meals, and free lawyers flew in to help migrants with paperwork and immigration matters.

“I want them to have a good life,” said Lisa Belcastro, who helped organize cots and supplies at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which sits among expensive white-clapboard houses in Edgarton. “I want them to come to America and hug them. They all want to work.”

Venezuelan expatriates stand outside St. Andrews Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, US, September 14, 2022. Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/Handout via Reuters/File photo

‘like chat’

DeSantis, who is running for re-election in November and is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate for 2024, said his administration flew migrants from Texas, not his own state, Island to flee because many migrants come to Florida. Texas.

In addition to re-election bids by DeSantis and Abbott, November’s midterm elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

Many migrants who enter the United States through the Southwest border are immediately expelled to Mexico or other countries under a COVID-19 pandemic policy. But some nationalities, including Venezuelans, cannot be expelled because Mexico will not accept them and many Americans want to apply for asylum.

The White House condemned the efforts of Republican governors, saying migrants were being used in political stunts.

“These were kids. They were mothers. They were running from communism. And what did Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott do to them? They used them as political pawns, treated them like chattels,” said White House officials. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. Press briefing on Friday.

The legal basis for the Florida government to collect migrants in a different state remained unclear. A Biden administration official told Reuters that US government lawyers are exploring potential lawsuits around the governor’s efforts.

Migrants who arrived at Martha’s Vineyard said they had recently been admitted to the United States on humanitarian parole after fleeing Venezuela, and were living at a shelter in San Antonio, Texas, when they were approached by a woman who who identified himself as “Perla”. ,

He said the woman misled him into thinking he was going to Boston and that he would be assisted in finding shelter and work for three months.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, director of Civil Rights Lawyers, a group helping migrants in Boston, said many people said they told those who organized the flights they had the necessary to attend to other cities. There were appointments with immigration officials.

“The organizers of this plan said ‘don’t 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 Hesson and Trevor Honeycutt in Washington and Christina Cook in San Francisco; Editing by Micah Rosenberg and Jonathan Otis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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