Florida and Texas step up flights and buses to move migrants

Republican governors have expanded their tactic of sending migrants to Democratic strongholds without warning, including a wealthy summertime enclave in Massachusetts and the Washington residence of Vice President Kamala Harris.

The governors of Texas and Arizona have sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago and Washington in recent months, but the latest measures – which included two surprise flights to Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday paid for by Florida – have reached a new level that critics derided. as inhuman.

Upon arrival at Martha’s Vineyard, where former President Barack Obama has a home, the migrants, mostly from Venezuela, received meals, shelter, health care and information on where to find work.

The vacation island south of Boston, whose year-round residents include many blue-collar workers, seemed to absorb the dozens of arrivals without a hitch.

“We are a community coming together to support immigrants,” said state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents the area.

Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights said it was providing free legal services and investigating whether the Florida governor may have violated human trafficking laws if migrants were found to be had been sent against their will or tricked into taking the flights.

United Latin American Citizens League President Domingo Garcia said some of the migrants sent on buses from Texas to Washington were deceived — an allegation the AP has not confirmed and that Texas officials and Arizona have denied.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office did not respond to questions about where the migrants boarded the planes and how they were persuaded to make the trip.

Massachusetts State Senator Julian Cyr said The Gazette of the Vineyard that plane departed from San Antonio, Texas, raising questions about whether the migrants ever set foot in Florida. Flight tracking data shows one flight departed from San Antonio, stopped in Crestview, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina, before landing in Martha’s Vineyard.

The two Texas migrant buses that arrived outside Harris’ residence at the United States Naval Observatory early Thursday were carrying more than 100 migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.

A woman, part of a group of newly arrived immigrants, holds a child as they are fed outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, September 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.

A woman, part of a group of newly arrived immigrants, holds a child as they are fed outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, September 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard.

“The Biden-Harris administration continues to ignore and deny the historic crisis on our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed communities across Texas for nearly two years,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. who is running for re-election and has dumped billions of taxpayer dollars. to make border security a signature issue.

Once asylum-seeking migrants cross the US-Mexico border, they are processed at a US Customs and Border Protection facility along the border and legally enter the country pending the outcome of their case in immigration court.

Republicans say Biden’s policies encourage migrants to disappear into US; Democrats argue that the Trump-era policy of forcing migrants to wait out their asylum claims in Mexico was inhumane.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that federal officials were not given advance notice by the Republican governors who sent the migrants to Massachusetts and Washington.

“We’re talking about children, we’re talking about families who have been promised housing, promised a job, put on a bus and taken to a place they don’t know,” Jean-Pierre said.

Abbott has transported 7,900 migrants to Washington since April, later sending 2,200 to New York and 300 to Chicago. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has transported more than 1,800 migrants to Washington since May. Passengers must sign waivers stating that free travel is voluntary.

DeSantis appears to be taking the strategy to a new level by using planes and choosing Martha’s Vineyard, whose port towns that are home to around 15,000 people are far less prepared than New York or Washington for large influxes of migrants.

Texas and Florida infuriated destination city officials by failing to provide passenger lists, estimated arrival times and other information that would aid in preparation. By contrast, Arizona has coordinated with officials from other cities.

President Joe Biden faces the same challenges as previous presidents: a dysfunctional asylum system in the United States and economic and social conditions that are driving people from dozens of countries to flee.

US authorities arrested migrants from Mexico about 2 million times from October to July, up nearly 50% from the same period a year earlier.

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