Ron DeSantis’ ‘appalling stunt’: flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

Florida’s Republican governor flew two planeloads of illegal migrants to the Massachusetts island

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts
Migrants flown by the state of Florida to Martha’s Vineyard on 15 September were given shelter by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts
(Image credit: Bianca Padro Ocasio/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Ron DeSantis is truly shameless, said Jack Shafer on Politico. The Republican governor of Florida – who is up for re-election in November and is considering a White House run – staged an appalling “stunt” last week, flying two planeloads of illegal migrants, mostly from Venezuela, to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, a favourite summer haunt of well-to-do liberals.

He got the idea from the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who has ferried thousands of migrants to Washington DC, New York and Chicago. These are all so-called “sanctuary cities”, which pride themselves on welcoming immigrants and protecting them from deportation.

Abbott’s line is that his state is so overwhelmed with immigrants that he needs to send them to the places that are attracting them. Florida, of course, has no border with Mexico, but that didn’t stop DeSantis. He just got some migrants from Texas, and “exploited” them for “political gain”.

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Liberals are aghast at DeSantis’s move, said Jordan Boyd in The Federalist. They’ve branded it “evil”. But the “real cruelty”, of course, is that Joe Biden’s policies have allowed the border crisis to get so out of control. At least 650 migrants died last year trying to cross the border, and hundreds more have died this year.

Border states, meanwhile, are struggling to absorb the vast number of arrivals from Mexico: two million are set to enter the US this year. By eradicating the “Remain in Mexico” rule, which required asylum seekers to await court decisions in Mexico, and ending other border-control measures, Biden invited a dangerous surge in illegal crossings. “If dropping migrants at the doorstep of the rich” forces Democrats to reckon with the polices that caused the crisis, “then so be it”.

Border states have every reason to be fed up with America’s immigration system, said Rex Huppke in USA Today. It’s “a mess”. But Republicans won’t help solve this by scooping up desperate migrants – including families with young children – and dumping them in cities run by people they don’t like.

The same tactic was employed by southern segregationists in the 1960s. Annoyed by activists from northern states advocating integration, they lured black citizens onto buses with promises of jobs and dumped them in northern cities. “Americans at that time saw it as a callous ploy, and it fizzled into infamy. The same will happen with this modern-day version.”

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