WOODS HOLE, MASS. (WHDH) – The sudden arrival of nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard has enflamed a long-running political debate on immigration policy.
Massachusetts politicians have been criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who took credit for sending migrants via charter planes to Martha’s Vineyard unannounced on Wednesday.
State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, said he was outraged at DeSantis’s explanation that he sent the migrants to make states like Massachusetts share the burden of border states.
“To use women and children as political pawns is cowardice,” Fernandes, D-Falmouth, said. “Governor DeSantis is a coward.”
U.S. senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren have both condemned the move by DeSantis, and at the White House, President Joe Biden has also criticized the treatment of migrants by Republican lawmakers.
“Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props,” Biden said. “What they’re doing is simply wrong, it’s un-American, it’s reckless.”
DeSantis is not the only Republican governor to send migrants out-of-state – both Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have been transporting migrants from their states to liberal strongholds like New York City and Chicago.
Abbott sent two busloads of migrants to outside Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington D.C., as well as some other northern cities in recent weeks.
Republican governors have framed the moves as necessary to protect the residents of their own states.
“The legislature gave me $12 million,” DeSantis said. “We’re going to use every penny of that to make sure we’re protecting the state of Florida.”
DeSantis also said that this is just the beginning of Florida’s efforts to transport migrants out of Florida and to other parts of the country.
“Every community in America should be sharing the burden,” DeSantis said. “It should not fall on just a handful of red states.”
In the meantime, the migrants that arrived on Martha’s Vineyard are now staying at Joint Base Cape Cod for the foreseeable future, after state officials scrambled to find facilities for them since Wednesday.
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