Not long after nearly 50 asylum seekers from Venezuela and Colombia landed in Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday night, many of them unaware of where they are after being transported there from out of state, Massachusetts elected officials and others took to social media to condemn Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “cruel” immigrant transportation decision.
“Transporting undocumented immigrants across state lines against their will…. isn’t that the very definition of human trafficking,” Sen. Adam Gomez wrote on Twitter.
Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for flying the immigrants to the island, according to a statement sent to MassLive. DeSantis sent two planes of immigrants as part of “the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” the statement said.
“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,” DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske told MassLive.
State Rep. Dylan Fernandes said the nearly 50 asylum seekers that were flown into Martha’s Vineyard from Florida had no idea where they were and were told that “they would be given housing and jobs” at their landing destination.
Fernandes added that the migrants “were met with compassion.”
Terry MacCormack, press secretary for Gov. Charlie Baker, said state leaders were in touch with local officials regarding the arrival of migrants in Martha’s Vineyard.
Massachusetts Rep. Bill Keating was quick to lambaste DeSantis on Twitter, stating that: “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.”
“Instead of working to find assistance for a group of refugees, Gov. Ron DeSantis chose to turn human beings into political pawns,” Keating wrote. “Instead of trying to help them, chose to charter a private jet and send them to a rural island community late in the day and without warning so they wouldn’t have the resources at the ready to support them.”
The Congressman went on to praise the Martha’s Vineyard community for welcoming the South American asylum seekers and applauded Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration’s quick, decisive decisions to assist the refugees.
Sen. Ed Markey said the Florida governor can learn from Massachusetts official’s “patriotism” in assisting the asylum seekers DeSantis decided to transport unknowingly to the immigrants.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis could learn a lesson from Massachusetts on what patriotism and liberty really look like,” Markey wrote on Twitter. “If he weren’t so busy using humans as props in a cruel stunt to buoy his pathetic political aspirations. To those who’ve just landed: we gladly embrace you.”
In a statement released on the Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council’s Twitter, the organization called DeSantis’ action a “moral disgrace”
“The manipulation of asylum seekers & refugees is a moral disgrace.” BJCRC wrote. “We will rise to this occasion & come together to work with our partners as we continue to embrace & assist the newest arrivals to our Commonwealth.”
Attorney and Journalist Seth Abramson also weighed in on the Florida governor’s recent decision, questioning the legality behind the unknowing transportation of around 50 immigrants.
“Only a very very small—vanishingly small—percentage of lawyers are expert in human trafficking legislation, and I’m not one of them,” Abramson wrote. “So I would love to hear additional discussion from experts and law enforcement about the legality of what DeSantis and Abbott are doing.”
State Sen. Jamie Eldridge said DeSantis’ action is “unbelievably cruel” and dangerous to the undocumented asylum seekers and their families.
“This is unbelievably cruel, dangerous to these individuals and families, and embarrassing political tactics,” Sen. Eldridge wrote on Facebook. “While Democratic legislators, progressive advocates and immigrant relief organizations swing into gear to help, let’s remember THIS is the face of Republican public policies and tactics. Massachusetts Republican officials should denounce these inhumane actions, and lend a hand.”