Opinion

Relocating migrants: A pointed message, or a 'crisis'?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Last Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) flew approximately 50 Venezuelan migrants from a shelter in San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard. "We are not a sanctuary state, and it's better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures," he told CNN of the controversial decision.

The move, however, represents only the most recent example of a Republican leader transferring migrants to a blue state location. Indeed, the tricky situation has reignited the public discourse over immigration. Here are a few opinions from both ends of the political spectrum:

Biden's immigration policy is to blame

The two Republican governors responsible for stirring up the public discourse on the treatment of migrants are Gov. Greg Abbot (R-Texas) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). Over the past few months, the two have flown or bused migrants from their respective states to other cities, including New York City, Martha's Vineyard, Washington D.C., and Chicago. When asked why they were investing so much money into shuttling migrants all over the country, both parties pointed to the Biden administration's immigration policies as being to blame. 

Last week, DeSantis took credit for shipping two planes of migrants to Martha's Vineyard. He justified his actions by arguing to CNN that all states should share the responsibility of caring for migrants — "it shouldn't all fall on a handful of red states."

DeSantis' communications director Taryn M. Fenske confirmed that the Florida Legislature set aside $12 million to transport migrants out of state. As Fenske said in a statement, "States like Massachusetts, New York, and California 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," 

Abbott has made a similar argument. Upon revealing his plan to relocate migrants from Texas at an April press conference, the governor said, "Because Joe Biden is not securing the border, the state of Texas is having to step up and spend Texas taxpayers' money doing the federal government's job," CNN reports.

In a statement released Thursday, Abbott added that "the Biden-Harris administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years." Abbott has most recently sent more buses of migrants to Vice President Harris' D.C. residence

It's a "humanitarian crisis"

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) expressed his disapproval of the actions of Abbott and DeSantis as the city is overwhelmed with the arrival of migrants. In an interview with CNN's State of the Union, Adams said, "We should not be really treating other cities and municipalities in the manner that we're witnessing now." He went on to say the current issue with migrant relocation is a "humanitarian crisis created by human hands." He admonished the lack of coordination between his offices and the government of Texas and Florida. 

"We're all supposed to come together and coordinate. Coordination during a crisis is something that we must do together. That's the federal government, that is also the governor of the state of Texas, as well as the governor of the state of Florida," he said.

Adams said Abbott and DeSantis are perpetuating an "erosion of basic human rights" by "treating people in an inhumane manner." He said many migrants had been misled and mistreated by Texas and Florida officials. "In some cases, we had those who were COVID positive on the buses with individuals who were dehydrated — didn't have proper food."

It's a political ploy that uses migrants as pawns

Multiple Democrats have called out Abbott and DeSantis for using migrants as pawns in a political ploy to express their dislike for Biden's immigration policies. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), for example, called the moves by Abbott and DeSantis "pathetic," as reported by Politico. "Why is it when the Republicans want to enforce their immigration theories, it's always the kids that end up being the victims?" he added. Durbin believes that the GOP governors "are taking advantage of these helpless people, making promises to them to get on the bus and life is just going to be fine."

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) agreed that this move was a ploy, stating that DeSantis and Abbott were participating in "political theater." He also suggested that the migrants should be sent back to their country of origin instead. While he agreed that the relocations were bringing attention to the issues, he wanted officials to "focus more on solutions on the border." The migrants "are human beings, and we got to treat them like human beings. They're being used as political pawns to get publicity," Cuellar said on CBS' Face the Nation.

Last week, President Biden also reprimanded the two Republican governors for "playing politics with human beings" and "using them as props." White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre likewise called the governors out for using "tactics we see from smugglers in places like Mexico and Guatemala." She said the pair "treated them like chattel in a cruel, premeditated political stunt."

These statements came along with the announcement that the government is considering whether or not to levy criminal charges against Abbott and DeSantis for their actions. 

Abbott and DeSantis are sending the government a message

Many Republicans voiced support for the relocation efforts of Abbott and DeSantis because they feel it sends a much-needed message. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) came to the defense of the governors on CNN's State of the Union, despite agreeing that their moves were political. "They're doing their best to try to send a message to the rest of the nation about the plight of those individuals that are coming from south of the border," Rounds told CNN.

Joe O'Dea, the Republican nominee for Senate in Colorado, had a similar opinion Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "You know what's cruel, is ignoring this issue," he said. "Democrats are ignoring it."

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