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DeSantis Uses Migrants as Political Pawns

In Governor Ron DeSantis’s 2022 State of the State address, he suggested the transfer of undocumented immigrants arriving in Florida to sanctuary cities. Recently, he has followed up on this threat.

On September 14, two planes with 50 migrants were transported to Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses. DeSantis (FL-R) paid for the flights from San Antonio, Texas to Florida, finally landing in Martha’s Vineyard as the last destination. Those who boarded the flight were told they would travel to Massachusetts to secure jobs. Unfortunately, this was not the case. According to Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County, which encompasses San Antonio, the passengers were left on the Island without any assistance. 

In the onset of this event, residents of Martha’s Vineyard stepped up to provide shelter, food, and clothing to those left stranded by DeSantis’s political stunt. After being shuffled between a local high school and church, the travelers are now being housed in a Cape Cod military base

In defense of his decision, DeSantis claimed he was considering the best interest of the migrants while simultaneously criticizing President Biden’s border policies. In a press conference on September 20, DeSantis stated “[the migrants] were hungry, homeless, they had no opportunity at all. The state of Florida […] offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions because it’s our view that — one, the border should be secured, and we want to have Biden reinstitute policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and making sure that people aren’t overwhelming.” Even more, DeSantis alluded to this plan in December when he said “if you sent [them] to Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard or some of these places, the border would be secure the next day.” While DeSantis began his Tuesday press conference with an attempt at a tone of good will, it is quickly apparent that the only aspect of a migrant’s life he cares about is keeping them on the other side of the border. 

Unfortunately, this transportation is not an isolated incident. Other governors like Greg Abbott (TX-R) and Doug Ducey (AZ-R) have sent thousands of migrants from their home to “blue states.” Even days after DeSantis’s migrant transport, Abbott sent another 100 migrants on buses to Vice President Kamala Harris’s residency. This latest action by Abbott clearly shows there is no concern for the wellbeing of migrants in mind, but rather a blatant display of how far members of the Republican party will go to prove a point, regardless of those it may hurt. 

There is no question that this was a political ploy at the expense of innocent migrants, 48 of whom, according to Salazar, were in the country legally. In reference to an unsubstantiated claim that the federal government is “shipping” undocumented immigrants to Florida, DeSantis’s calls this a “massive human smuggling operation.”

The National Public Radio was able to talk to some of these migrants after their transport. One man put it simply: “Look, when you have no money and someone offers help, well, it means a lot.” These migrants took a chance to provide a better life for themselves and their families, only to be left confused and stranded. Ron DeSantis is not protecting the people of Florida, but is instead playing the game of politics with the lives of vulnerable people left far too helpless. 

Sources:

https://flgov.com/2022/01/11/governor-ron-desantis-state-of-the-state-address-3/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/14/politics/marthas-vineyard-massachusetts-migrants-planes/index.html

https://www.npr.org/2022/09/19/1123975684/texas-sheriff-criminal-investigation-desantis-migrant-flight-marthas-vineyard

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/9/17/23357832/desantis-marthas-vineyard-flights-gop-immigration-stunts

https://www.npr.org/2022/09/15/1123109768/migrants-sent-to-marthas-vineyard

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/desantis-rips-outrage-marthas-vineyard-flights-i-didnt-hear-peep-biden-flights

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/white-house-frustrated-washington-mayor-seeks-troops-help-handle-migrants-2022-08-03/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/14/politics/marthas-vineyard-massachusetts-migrants-planes/index.html

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2022/09/19/cape-cod-base-migrants-marthas-vineyard/

Liz Whitmer

Bucknell '23

Liz, a Political Science major at Bucknell, is from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and began writing for Her Campus during the spring semester of 2020. In her free time she enjoys watching Seinfeld, online shopping, and arguing about politics.
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