Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed Democrats and the “sanctuary jurisdictions” they run for going “berserk” over his move to ship dozens of migrants out of his state to Martha’s Vineyard — and accused them of engaging in phony “virtue signaling.”
On Wednesday, the Republican chartered planes to transport more than 50 migrants, most of whom are from Venezuela, to the wealthy summer enclave in Massachusetts where former President Barack Obama has an $11.75 million home.
Democrats were quick to take aim at DeSantis for what they described as a “humanitarian crisis” over just 50 migrants showing up in the liberal playground, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who asked the US Department of Justice to consider kidnapping charges against the Florida governor’s administration stemming from the relocation of migrants to “blue” states.
In a speech on Thursday, a defiant DeSantis admitted that sending migrants to Democrat-controlled “sanctuary” cities and states was meant to taunt local leaders and stoke opposition to President Biden’s lax border policies.
“If you have folks who are inclined to think Florida is a good place (to live), our message to them is we are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction,” DeSantis told a crowd of supporters. “And yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures.”
DeSantis accused pro-immigration politicians of hypocrisy for voicing opposition to the arrival of migrants in their states, even as border towns in Arizona and Texas are being inundated with foreign nationals pouring into those states from Mexico.
“The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they go berserk, and they’re so upset that this is happening,” he said. “And it just shows you that their virtue-signaling is a fraud.”
He added: “Now, what would be best is for Biden to do his damn job and secure the border.”
Upon landing in Martha’s Vineyard — an island with a population of 15,000 — the migrants were taken to St. Andrew’s Church and provided with meals, shelter, health care and information about where to find work.
The newcomers’ unexpected arrival threw the small community into chaos, prompting the local tourism board to label the situation a “humanitarian crisis.”
“We have reached out to our State and Federal partners for additional and long term support and assistance,” wrote a county emergency management rep in a statement.
Lisa Belcastro, coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard homeless shelter, called the emergency housing arrangements for migrants a “stop-gap.” She suggested they will eventually need to be moved to a different location.
“At some point in time they have to move from here to somewhere else,” Belcastro told local news outlets. “We cannot, we do not, have the services to take care of 50 immigrants.”
Elizabeth Folcarelli, chief executive of the nonprofit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, said the new arrivals said they were told they would have a job, and they would have housing. She described the scramble for shelter as a “huge challenge.”
County Commissioner Keith Chatinover, a Democrat who a year ago stated that he would “love” for Martha’s Vineyard to become a “haven” for migrants, on Thursday lashed out at DeSantis and retweeted posts branding him a “fascist.”
When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Chatinover out for his apparent U-turn on the migrant issue, the commissioner explained that he supports refugee resettlement but not without being given “advance notice.”
Chatinover further accused Republicans of showing “blatant disregard” for human rights by sowing chaos just to “prove a point.”
Assistant Speaker of the US House Katherine Clark similarly accused DeSantis of “playing politics with human life.”
Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for DeSantis, argued that Democrats should direct their rage at Biden’s “border policies incentivizing human smuggling and dangerous treks across Central America.”
The Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, in recent months to teach the Democratic leaders of those cities a hard lesson about the ongoing border crisis, which has seen nearly 2 million cross into the US from Mexico between October and July.
On Thursday, two busloads of migrants from Texas arrived outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence at the Naval Observatory in DC.
“The Biden-Harris administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has spent about $15 million chartering buses to relocate migrants.
The governor of California, who has publicly clashed with DeSantis and Abbott over their policies, responded to the relocation of migrants by asking the DOJ to investigate whether transporting people across states lines as “political props” was illegal.
“Transporting families, including children, across state lines under false pretenses is morally reprehensible, but it may also be illegal,” Newsom wrote in a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland that he also posted on his Twitter account.
Without mentioning DeSantis or Abbott by name, Newsom suggested the federal government could bring charges of kidnapping and “civil rights conspiracy” because the migrants were targeted because of their national origin.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that federal officials were not told in advance by the Republican governors who sent the migrants to Massachusetts and Washington.
“We’re talking about children, we’re talking about families who were promised a home, promised a job, put on a bus and driven to a place that they do not know,” said Jean-Pierre, who called the governors’ actions a “cruel, premeditated political stunt.”
With Post wires