White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused GOP governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida of behaving like “smugglers” and misleading migrants transported this week to Democratic-leaning jurisdictions — after the White House defended its own midnight migrant flights in recent months.
“These vulnerable migrants were reportedly misled about where they were headed, told they would be headed to Boston, misled about what they would be provided when they arrived, promised shelter, refuge, benefits, and more,” Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday.
“These are the kinds of tactics we see from smugglers in places like Mexico and Guatemala,” she added.
DeSantis flew about 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants late Wednesday to the elite vacation destination of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, while Abbott on Thursday delivered 101 bussed-in migrants to the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris, President Biden’s migration czar.
Jean-Pierre claimed that migrants sent to DC were “abandoned” on a “busy road” — despite the fact that there are many sidewalks on that stretch of Massachusetts Avenue outside the veep’s official residence at the Naval Observatory. Photos showed that the migrants were loaded into city-sponsored vans shortly after the buses dropped them off.
“Yesterday, two Republican governors reportedly lured more than 100 asylum seekers, including children, onto planes and buses with false premises and then abandoned them on the side of a busy road thousands of miles away with nothing — with nothing but Ziploc bags of their belongings in hand,” Jean-Pierre said.
“These were children. They were moms. They were fleeing communism. And what did Gov. DeSantis and Gov. Abbott do to them? They used them as political pawns, treating them like chattel in a cruel premeditated political stunt.”
Texas has since April been bussing migrants from the US-Mexico border to the nation’s capital — delivering more than 7,900 migrants as of last week — and since August has sent more than 2,200 migrants to New York City as part of the same push. Florida joined the effort more recently.
The Republican governors say they’re trying to pressure the federal government into adopting stricter border policies to reduce the impact of migration on their own states — and defenders note that the Biden administration is itself circulating migrants to some of the same areas, including the New York City region, with secret nighttime planeloads of unaccompanied migrant kids.
After The Post exposed the undercover travel in October of 2021, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the enterprise, joking with reporters that “we are talking about early flights. Earlier than you might like to take a flight.”
The chief White House spokesperson then insisted that the federal government had a “legal responsibility to safely care for unaccompanied children until they … can be swiftly unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor.”
The Biden administration similarly tried to laugh off Abbott’s bussing project when it launched earlier this year.
“Well, these are all migrants who have been processed by [Customs and Border Protection] and are free to travel. So, it’s nice the state of Texas is helping them get to their final destination as they await their outcome of their immigration proceedings,” Psaki told the White House press corps on April 13.
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But some of the migrants transported this week told news outlets they felt duped.
A 27-year-old man named Luis, who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, claimed to Reuters that he and nine relatives were approached at a shelter in San Antonio after crossing the US-Mexico border and being released with court dates.
Luis told the wire service that the 10-person family was told they would be flown to Massachusetts — without being told it would be to an island — and that they would be provided shelter and other support for 90 days, along with work permits and English lessons.
The group of 101 sent to Harris’ residence — located in an upscale area of DC about two miles from the White House — included citizens of Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, and Panama, according to Abbott’s office.
Abbott tweeted, “We’re sending migrants to [Harris’] backyard to call on the Biden Administration to do its job & secure the border.”
DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said the flights to Martha’s Vineyard were “part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”
“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,” Fenske said.
This year has already seen an all-time record for illegal border crossings. Fiscal 2022, which ends Sept. 30, is expected to record more than 2 million migrant encounters along the US-Mexico border, an increase from 1.7 million in fiscal 2021, fewer than 500,000 in fiscal 2020, and nearly 1 million in fiscal 2019.