Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he is responsible for sending two planes of migrants to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, following in the footsteps of conservative governors in Texas and Arizona, who have sent bus-loads of migrants to Washington, D.C. in recent months.
"States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as 'sanctuary states' and support for the Biden Administration's open border policies," DeSantis' office told CNN in a statement.
Orlando news station WESH received a statement from DeSantis' office confirming that the two planes "were part of the state's relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations." Boston station WCVB reports that the Florida Legislature appropriated $12 million for the program.
Massachusetts state Sen. Julian Cyr told CNN that approximately 50 migrants traveling by plane landed in Martha's Vineyard Wednesday, and were then taken to Martha's Vineyard Community Services.
According to Cyr, there was "no advance notice" given to anyone in Massachusetts.
"The island scrambled to respond," he told the network. "They essentially set up shelters, the equivalent of a hurricane or Nor'easter. They set that up in a matter of hours and these families received a meal. They were Covid tested and are spending the night in shelters at several churches on the island."
NPR reports that the migrants were told they were traveling to Boston, and that the flight "originated in San Antonio, made a stop in Florida and then another stop in South Carolina before flying on to Martha's Vineyard."
Some of the group told NPR that they were approached outside a shelter and lured into boarding the plane with promises of expedited work papers.
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Massachusetts state Sen. Dylan Fernandes told NPR that flying the migrants to another state was akin to transporting "cattle on an airplane."
"Ship them women and children to a place they weren't told where they were going and never alerted local officials and people on the ground here that they were coming," Fernandes told NPR. "It is an incredibly inhumane and depraved thing to do."
It is unclear exactly where the migrants came from before traveling to Martha's Vineyard — one of New England's most expensive places to live, where median home sale prices hovered at around $1.3 million in April.
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DeSantis' shuttling of migrants to Martha's Vineyard comes as other Republican governors have done the same: moving refugees out of their states and to Democrat-led areas, as a public push from conservatives against President Joe Biden's border policies.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed responsibility for a similar stunt on Thursday, in which two buses of migrants arrived at the US Naval Observatory — Vice President Kamala Harris' residence in Washington, D.C. CNN reports that the volunteers who staff the observatory were surprised at their arrival, and had not been previously notified. CNN reports that the majority of those migrants came from Venezuela, according to volunteers.
Abbott, who is running for reelection this year, announced in April that he was busing migrants from the Lone Star State to the Big Apple.
Speaking about the move, Abbott blamed Biden for what he called a "refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies."
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New York City Mayor Eric Adams condemned Abbott in a speech at New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal, where 14 people were dropped off after traveling three days.
"This is horrific, when you think about what the governor is doing," Adams said at the time.
The mayor added that some of the migrants had no choice but to travel to New York. "Some of the families are on the bus that wanted to go to other locations, and they were not allowed to do so. They were forced on the bus," he said, according to Politico. "Our goal is to immediately find out each family's needs and give them the assistance they want."
In May, Arizona's Republican Gov. Doug Ducey made a similar move, sending migrants from his state's southern border to Washington, D.C., as well.
According to a news release, the Arizona-to-D.C. bus trips were voluntary, and would "include meals, and onboard staffing and support."