Recently, a startling scene unfolded with the arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, of dozens of migrants who originated in Texas and whose travel to the area was set up by the administration of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. A local state representative is demanding a Justice Department investigation.
The migrants who were on the flights, which weren’t compulsory, were potentially the victims of dramatic deception about the nature of the transportation and where they were going. When the migrants were convinced to join the trip, the group, which included individuals fleeing the Venezuelan government, were in the process of seeking asylum, which they are still pursuing. DeSantis’s description of the group as illegal immigrants is deceptive. They’re allowed to be here. A political newsletter run by longtime journalist Judd Legum obtained a copy of a brochure apparently provided to targeted migrants, and the doc, which originated (prior to Legum’s possession) with a legal org representing dozens of the affected migrants, contains stark misrepresentations about what benefits were available to the group. As Legum recapped it, the benefits outlined in the pamphlet are actually available for migrants authorized to live in the U.S. whose cases originate in part with the United Nations.
That’s not these people, who the DeSantis team recklessly used as a political prop. Local officials in Massachusetts didn’t even receive prior notice of the migrants’ arrival. “We are requesting that the Department of Justice open an investigation to hold DeSantis & others accountable for these inhumane acts,” state Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D) said Sunday. “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking. I have spoken with our US Attorney Rachel Rollins and am grateful to hear she is pushing for a response from the DOJ.”
Rollins has herself commented in publicly available remarks about the situation. “Massachusetts isn’t the only place where this has happened,” she said. “We have several other sister communities, whether it’s D.C., New York, California, where we’ve seen things like this. And we’re hoping to get some input from the Department of Justice about what our next steps might be, if any at all.” A man named Eduardo, who was among those who went to Massachusetts on the DeSantis-backed flights, described some of the false promises. “When they told us that they were going to help us with the rent, to get a job, that was the only option left to us,” he said. He and his wife, along with their child, were homeless at the time they were approached by a woman identifying herself as Perla, who was apparently involved in convincing multiple migrants to join the trek — and who advocates are trying to identify.
California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom also pushed for an investigation by the Justice Department into what’s going on here. DeSantis isn’t alone in setting up transports for migrants to Democratic-leaning areas no matter any gaps in the support structure needed to care for these people. Governors of both Arizona and Texas are also responsible for moving thousands of migrants into northern locales like D.C., where local officials — and, in Martha’s Vineyard, a freshly prominent group of community members — are stepping in to help. Numerous migrants who arrive at the southern border are already turned away in connection to pandemic era rules. Presently, the notion from some Republicans the Biden administration isn’t itself engaging with immigration-related issues to a meaningful extent is just false.
Abbott’s team recently organized bus trips dropping migrants off outside the vice presidential residence. Obviously, effectively caring for those getting transported these long distances isn’t high on the governors’ agenda. For whatever reasons the officials might harbor, whether broadly getting people to start talking about immigration, attempting to expose supposed liberal hypocrisy, or anything else, they’re flying (or otherwise moving) struggling and disadvantaged people, including children, to areas where many potentially have no prior connections. It doesn’t appear there’s any vetting process to examine whether someone might actually be a good fit for the area before the trips get going.