DeSantis, Biden butt heads over Florida’s migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard

MARTHA’s VINEYARD, Mass. – A group of about 50 migrants from Venezuela has been moved from Martha’s Vineyard to mainland Massachusetts in Cape Cod.

Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, chartered two flights for the men, women, and children Wednesday to the small resort island. It’s a move that’s in protest of President Biden’s border policies – and it’s drawn controversy – as some call it inhumane and strictly political.

Officials on the island said they had no idea. It’s an issue that’s sharply political and divisive.

Related: Surprise is key part of migrant travel from Florida, Texas | ‘It’s shameful’: Sparks fly after Gov. Ron DeSantis sends planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

As that battle continues, Massachusetts leaders have to find out what to do with this group of migrants as DeSantis said he plans to transport more migrants from Florida to sanctuary states.

There were cheers as about 50 migrants from Venezuela boarded buses Friday morning. They took a ferry off Martha’s Vineyard to the mainland to stay at Joint Base Cape Cod for emergency shelter.

This comes after the area’s residents scrambled to take care of their unexpected visitors.

“We went and loaded up some cases of water, some snacks, some other fruits and things that we had available to us,” Richard Reinhardsen, an employee with the Salvation Army, said.

Gov. DeSantis spoke Friday afternoon in Daytona Beach. He discussed sending the two planes to the Massachusetts island, saying sanctuary states need to bear the burden of President Biden’s weak immigration and border policies. He explained the planes came from San Antonio, Texas, and were filled with migrants who had intentions to move to Florida.

DeSantis said the move was voluntary and they signed waivers in addition to getting a map of Martha’s Vineyard. That’s in contrast to what critics were saying, arguing that the migrants were lured onto the planes thinking they were getting work and lodging.

“It’s only when you have 50 illegal aliens end up in a wealthy rich enclave that he (Biden) decides to scramble at this,” DeSantis told the crowd at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. “So what we are continuing to do is use every tool at our disposal to help with the negative border policies.”

It seems to be in direct response to flights from the Biden administration filled with immigrants. The News4JAX I-TEAM documented dozens of charters landing in Jacksonville.

“We want to make sure that taxpayers are not having to foot tens of thousands or thousands of people coming in illegally and that’s the way to do it,” he added.

In recent weeks, Republican Governors from Arizona and Texas have joined Florida in protests — sending hundreds of migrants from the southern border to northern, Democrat-run states.

DeSantis said more flights and buses were likely after he secured $12 million in relocation funding from the state legislature.

Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props,” President Joe Biden said. “What they’re doing is simply wrong. It’s unAmerican, it’s reckless and we have a process in place to manage migrants at the border.”

The Republican party of Florida countered claiming that 3.4 million illegal immigrants have made it to the US border since Biden took office — and over 800,000 escaped into the U.S. The party of Florida also claimed terrorists, rapists, gang members, and cartels are exploiting the chaos.

Humanitarian groups have been firing back with rebuttals — calling the actions of the Republican governors unacceptable.

“We do need to go after the gangs and the drug dealers and the cartels, but we also need to treat real, legitimate refugees, specifically families and Children, with human compassion and American charity,” said Domingo Garcia, president of The League of United Latin American Citizens.

Many, like California’s governor Gavin Newsom, are calling for a Department of Justice investigation into potential human rights violations. As of now, the future for the migrants is unclear.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.