Migrants flown to Martha’s Winery by Florida governor say they have been misled

MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass., Sept 15 (Reuters) – Some migrants who have been flown to the rich island of Martha’s Winery, Massachusetts, stated on Thursday they have been duped about their vacation spot, and Democratic leaders referred to as for a probe of the transfer by Florida’s Republican governor to ship them there from Texas.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s up for re-election in November and seen as a attainable presidential contender in 2024, took credit score for the 2 flights, which originated in San Antonio, Texas, and stopped in Florida on the way in which to Martha’s Winery.

The White Home and residents of the holiday enclave referred to as it a “political stunt,” as DeSantis joins Republican governors from Texas and Arizona in sending migrants north. The governors have sought to spotlight the 2 events’ variations on immigration coverage and shift the burden of caring for immigrants to Democratic areas.

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For months Texas and Arizona have despatched busloads of migrants to the Democratic-run cities of New York, Chicago and Washington.

Florida now joins the marketing campaign. Particulars of how the flights have been organized and paid for stay unclear, in addition to a proof as to why Florida was transferring migrants in Texas. The Florida legislature has appropriated $12 million to move migrants from the state to different places.

The 2 flights on Wednesday carried about 50 migrants, largely Venezuelans, a Martha’s Winery Airport official stated.

Hours after the planes landed, two buses despatched by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, one other Republican dealing with re-election, dropped off migrants in a Washington neighborhood not removed from Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence on Thursday.

One Venezuelan migrant who arrived at Martha’s Winery recognized himself as Luis, 27, and stated he and 9 family members have been promised a flight to Massachusetts, together with shelter, help for 90 days, assist with work permits and English classes. He stated they have been stunned when their flight landed on an island.

He stated the guarantees got here from a lady who gave her title as “Perla” who approached his household on the road outdoors a San Antonio shelter after they crossed from Mexico and U.S. border authorities launched them with an immigration courtroom date.

He stated the lady, who additionally put them up in a lodge, didn’t present a final title or any affiliation, however requested them to signal a legal responsibility waiver.

“We’re scared,” he stated, including he and others felt they have been lied to. “I hope they provide us assist.”

Residents of Martha’s Winery rallied to help the confused migrants and supplied housing at St. Andrews Episcopal Church.

Martha’s Winery is finest generally known as a summer time retreat populated largely by prosperous liberal People, together with former President Barack Obama, a Democrat who owns a multimillion-dollar trip house there.

Locals stopped by to donate cash and kids’s toys, whereas attorneys mobilized to supply free authorized assist.

“It is a stunt to make political factors and never caring about who will get harm,” stated Mike Savoy, 58, a nurse at Martha’s Winery Regional Excessive College.

DeSantis defended the flights, telling a information convention that Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden “has refused to carry a finger” to safe the border.

“We have labored on progressive methods to have the ability to defend the state of Florida from the influence of Biden’s border insurance policies,” DeSantis stated.

White Home Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated Republican governors have been utilizing migrants as “political pawns.”


A number of Democrats, together with Charlie Crist, DeSantis’ opponent in Florida, and California Governor Gavin Newsom, referred to as on federal authorities to analyze.

Massachusetts U.S. Legal professional Rachael Rollins stated at a information convention her workplace can be “wanting into that case” and talking with the Justice Division.

The U.S. Division of Homeland Safety developed a plan final 12 months to fly migrants to inside cities in coordination with assist teams to ease strain on border areas, a Biden administration official informed Reuters, requesting anonymity to debate inside planning.

The White Home by no means adopted the thought, in line with a second U.S. official acquainted with the matter.

Using sources from Florida to maneuver migrants from Texas to Massachusetts raises authorized considerations, together with about what info was relayed to the migrants earlier than they boarded and whether or not they have been coerced, stated immigration legislation knowledgeable Pratheepan Gulasekaram of Santa Clara College College of Regulation.

U.S. border brokers have made 1.8 million migrant arrests on the U.S.-Mexico border since final October. Many are shortly expelled to Mexico or different international locations beneath a public well being rule carried out in 2020 to curb the unfold of COVID-19.

However a whole bunch of hundreds Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and others can’t be expelled as a result of Mexico refuses to simply accept them, or as a result of they will pursue asylum claims. read more

Many migrants who’re launched from U.S. custody in border states search to maneuver elsewhere to affix family members or discover jobs. They usually should verify in with U.S. immigration authorities or attend courtroom hearings to acquire authorized standing.

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Reporting by Jonathan Allen in Martha’s Winery, Wealthy McKay in Atlanta and Ted Hesson in Washington; Further reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago, Andrea Shalal and Mike Scarcella in Washington, Nate Raymond in Boston and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Enhancing by Mica Rosenberg, Aurora Ellis, David Gregorio and Gerry Doyle

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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