DeSantis took credit for sending two planes packed with migrants from Venezuela and Colombia to the Massachusetts island on Wednesday. He and other Republican governors hope to use the relocation of migrants out of their states as a way to drum up attention to the White House’s immigration policies, The Associated Press reported.
The flights, which DeSantis claimed were paid for by a state program, started in San Antonio and made stops in Florida and the Carolinas before arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, NPR reported. However, the migrants told the radio network that a woman who called herself “Perla” persuaded them to get on the plane and said they’d receive expedited work papers when they arrived in Boston.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said short-term shelter was provided for the migrants who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard.
Democrats condemned the Florida governor’s actions, calling them a political stunt.
Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) told WPRI-TV that DeSantis had misused public resources to pay for the flights. He also claimed island officials told him that a videographer was onboard one of the planes.
″[DeSantis sent the migrants] so he could use it for his own advantage and then his paid-for political spokesperson was immediately taking credit, if you want to call it credit, for doing something that was clearly a political stunt,” Keating said.
Keating later said the stunt wasn’t even original and referred to legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last year that aimed to send migrants to new ports of entry, such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
“This is clearly what it was, it’s quite transparent, it’s quite obvious and for Florida taxpayers, [it’s] extravagant, just for [DeSantis’] own political end.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the move by DeSantis “inhumane” on Thursday.
“Republican governors… using migrants as political pawns is shameful, it’s reckless, and just plain wrong,” Jean-Pierre said.