Migrants flying to Martha’s Vineyard say they were misled by Florida governor

Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Sept 15 (Reuters) – Some migrants who were flown to the wealthy island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts said on Thursday they had been duped over their destination, the Democratic leader said on Thursday. People called for an investigation into the move by the Florida Republican. The governor sent them there from Texas.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for re-election in November and is seen as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, credits the two flights, which Originated in San Antonio, Texas, and stopped in Florida on the way to Martha’s Vineyard.

Residents of the White House and the resort enclave called it a “political stunt” as DeSantis joined Republican governors of Texas and Arizona in sending immigrants north. Governors have sought to highlight bipartisan differences on immigration policy and shift the burden of caring for immigrants to democratic areas.

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Texas and Arizona have been sending large numbers of immigrants to Democratic-run cities like New York, Chicago and Washington for months.

Florida has now joined the campaign. Details of how the flights were scheduled and paid for, along with an explanation for why Florida moved immigrants to Texas, remain unclear. The Florida legislature has allocated $12 million to transport immigrants from the state to other places.

Two flights on Wednesday were carrying about 50 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, an official at Martha’s Vineyard Airport said.

Hours after the plane landed, two buses from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, another Republican facing re-election, were dispatched Thursday away from Vice President Kamala Harris. Get off in the Washington neighborhood, not far from Kamala Harris’ residence.

A Venezuelan immigrant who arrived on Martha’s Vineyard identified himself as Luis, 27, and said he and nine relatives were promised to fly to Massachusetts and provide assistance with shelter, 90 days of support, a work permit and English classes. He said they were surprised when their flight landed on an island.

The pledges, he said, came from a woman calling herself “Pella” who approached his family on the street outside a San Antonio shelter after they crossed the border from Mexico, and U.S. border authorities released them on an immigration court date.

The woman also placed them at the hotel, he said, without giving a last name or any affiliation, but asking them to sign a disclaimer.

“We were terrified,” he said, adding that he and others felt they were being lied to. “I hope they can help us.”

Residents of Martha’s Vineyard unite to help confused immigrants and provide housing in St. Petersburg. St Andrews Episcopal Church.

Martha’s Vineyard is best known as a summer resort populated mostly by wealthy liberal Americans, including former President Barack Obama, a Democrat who owns a multimillion-dollar vacation home there people.

Locals stopped to donate money and children’s toys, while lawyers mobilized to provide free legal help.

“It’s a stunt to express political views without caring who gets hurt,” said Mike Savoy, a 58-year-old nurse at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

DeSantis defended the flights, telling a news conference that U.S. Democratic President Joe Biden “refused to raise his hand” to secure the border.

“We’ve been working on innovative ways to protect Florida from Biden’s border policies,” DeSantis said.

White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said Republican governors were using immigration as “political pawns.”

Legal Issues

Several Democrats, including DeSantis’ opponent in Florida, Charlie Crist, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have called on federal authorities to investigate.

U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins of Massachusetts said at a news conference that her office would “investigate the case” and speak with the Justice Department.

A Biden administration official told Reuters last year that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security created a program last year for migrants to work with aid groups to send migrants to interior cities to ease pressure on the border, requesting anonymity to discuss internal planning.

The White House never adopted the idea, according to another U.S. official familiar with the matter.

Using Florida’s resources to move immigrants from Texas to Massachusetts raises legal questions, including what information is passed on to immigrants before they board and what information they have, said Pratheepan Gulasekaram, an immigration law expert at Santa Clara University School of Law. been coerced.

U.S. border agents have apprehended 1.8 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border since October. Many were quickly deported to Mexico or other countries under public health rules implemented in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

But hundreds of thousands of Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and others cannot be deported because Mexico refuses to accept them, or because they can apply for asylum.read more

Many immigrants released from U.S. detention in border states seek to relocate elsewhere to join relatives or find work. They typically must register with U.S. immigration authorities or attend a court hearing to gain legal status.

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Reporting by Jonathan Allen in Martha’s Vineyard, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago, Andrea Shalal and Mike Scarcella in Washington, Nate Raymond in Boston and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg, Aurora Ellis , edited by David Gregorio and Gerry Doyle

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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