Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida governor say they were duped by Reuters

© Reuters. A screen shows migrants being loaded onto a bus from Texas to the Naval Observatory in Washington DC, U.S., September 15, 2022. Marat Sadana / REUTERS TV via REUTERS

By Jonathan Allen, Ted Hesson and Rich McKay

MARTHA’S VINEYARD. they’re there from Texas.

In what the White House and residents of the resort called “political developments,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recognized the two flights. Tracking website FlightAware says they originated in San Antonio, Texas.

An official at Martha’s Vineyard airport said the planes were carrying about 50 migrants, mostly Venezuelans.

A Venezuelan migrant who identified himself as Luis, 27, said he and nine relatives were promised a flight to Massachusetts, along with accommodation, 90-day support, help with work permits and school English. He said they were surprised when their flight landed on an island.

He said the promises came from a woman named “Perla” who approached his family on the street outside a shelter in San Antonio after they crossed the border from Mexico and US border authorities. Ky released them with an immigration court date.

He said the woman, who also took them into the hotel, did not provide them or any relationship, but asked them to sign a disclaimer.

“We were scared,” he said, adding that he and others felt they had been deceived. “I hope they help us.”

Residents of Martha’s Vineyard, a small island south of Boston, have gathered to help confused migrants and provide housing at St. Andrews Episcopal, sometimes used as a winter shelter for the homeless.

Martha’s Vineyard is best known as a summer getaway, mostly populated by wealthy liberal Americans, including former President Barack Obama, a Democrat who owned a valuable vacation home. millions of dollars there.

Locals stopped by to ask the migrants to donate money and children’s toys, while lawyers were mobilized to provide free legal aid. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said the state was considering setting up a temporary shelter in nearby Cape Cod.

Mike Savoy, 58, a nurse at Martha’s Vineyard High School said: ‘It’s a stunt to make political views and not care who gets hurt.

DeSantis, who is seeking re-election in November and is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024, said at a news conference that US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, “refused to lift a finger” to secure the border.

“We’ve been researching creative ways we can protect Florida from the impact of Biden’s border policies,” he said.

Since this spring, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have brought thousands of migrants from the border to Democratic strongholds like Washington, DC, New York City and Chicago.

On Thursday, two buses driven by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, another Republican facing re-election, sent migrants in a Washington DC neighborhood not far from their official residence. by Vice President Kamala Harris. Volunteers waiting for them to arrive at another location said they had no advance warning.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Republican governors are using migrants as “political pawns”.


Several Democrats, including Charlie Crist, a rival of DeSantis in Florida, and California Governor Gavin Newsom, have called on federal authorities to investigate the incident, saying it demonstrates a lack of humanity. .

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins (NYSE:) said at a news conference her office will “look into that case” and speak to the Justice Department.

Immigration law expert Pratheepan Gulasekaram of Santa Clara University School of Law told Reuters that using resources from Florida to move migrants from Texas to Massachusetts raised legal concerns including what information was delivered to migrants before they board the plane and whether they are coerced.

The Florida legislature appropriated $12 million to transport migrants from the state to other locations, DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in a statement.

US border agents made 1.8 million migrant arrests at the US-Mexico border this financial year, which began last October. Many have crossed the border multiple times and were quickly deported to Mexico or other countries under a public health rule implemented in 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and other migrants cannot be deported because Mexico does not accept them, or because they received exceptions to the deportation order and were allowed to enter the United States to pursue the claim. refugee.

Many migrants freed from U.S. custody in border states seek to move elsewhere to join relatives or find work. They often have to check with U.S. immigration authorities or attend court hearings to get legal status.

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