DeSantis, Democrats Clash Over Migrant Flights to Martha's Vineyard

At a news conference Thursday, DeSantis reiterated that the state was sending the immigrants to a "sanctuary" destination

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending his actions after sending two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, as Democrats are denouncing the action.

At a news conference Thursday, DeSantis reiterated that the state was sending the immigrants to a "sanctuary" destination.

"We are not a sanctuary state and it's better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures," DeSantis said.

There were reportedly about 50 migrants in all, most of them from Venezuela, who arrived on the Massachusetts island Wednesday.

NBC 6's Victor Jorges has the latest on this breaking news story from late Wednesday night.

Martha’s Vineyard has styled itself as a “sanctuary destination” that welcomes migrants — a position it took early in former President Donald Trump’s administration.

DeSantis and other Republican governors have been drawing attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies.

"Biden would fly people in the middle of the night, dump them all across this country, there was no warning on any of this and all those people in DC and New York were beating their chests when Trump was president saying they were so proud to be sanctuary jurisdictions, saying how bad it was to have a secure border," DeSantis said Thursday. "The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they all the sudden go berserk and they're so upset that this is happening. And it just shows you their virtue signaling is a fraud."

DeSantis' actions drew an immediate response from Democrats, including his opponent in this year's gubernatorial race, Charlie Crist.

"It's so cold and so callous and so inhumane. It is unconscionable. It's just, it's vile, like, I can't believe it. I can't believe it," Crist said during a press conference on Zoom Thursday. "Look, if he had a problem with any kind of policy of the Biden administration, he can voice it. He doesn't have to engage innocent human beings in this way, in an inhumane fashion, to try to make a political statement."

At a news conference in South Florida Thursday, Adelys Ferro, director of the Venezuelan American Caucus, said DeSantis was treating Venezuelan immigrants like pieces "on his political game board, to get headlines and to get political points in his eagerness to become the Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election."

“Immigrants and asylum-seekers are people — period," Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said in a statement. “It is cruel and immoral that some governors are involuntarily flying and busing people and families to other states, based on their perceived immigration status.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, a Massachusetts Democrat, tweeted: “History does not look kindly on leaders who treat human beings like cargo, loading them up and sending them a thousand miles away without telling them their destination. Still, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made that choice today.”

"There is nothing that DeSantis won’t do, and nobody that he won’t hurt, in order to score political points," said Manny Diaz, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. "He took dozens of families and children, reportedly from Venezuela and Colombia, away from everyone that they know, flew them across the country, and left them by the side of the road without shelter or direction – all in order to score political points."

NBC 6 and AP
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