After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis boasted of sending 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard, authorities in Massachusetts said they have requested a federal human trafficking probe. State Rep. Dylan Fernandes tweeted Sunday, "Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking." DeSantis explained that the migrants, who were picked up in Texas, were part of $12 million Florida program that transports undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary destinations, reports USA Today. He denied any claims that the migrants were enticed or tricked into taking flights with promises of jobs that did not exist. However, Democrats accuse Republican DeSantis of using the migrants to help him get reelected as governor in November and to continue to build his political profile to run for president in 2024.
DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have also sent migrants to other sanctuary cities, including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered shelter and humanitarian support be provided at Joint Base Cape Cod. Some 125 National Guard Members are aiding the effort. The Venezuelan migrants are among a global diaspora of millions of people who left the country to escape a depressed economy and a dictatorial regime amid power outages, lack of access to reliable water, rampant inflation and political turmoil. El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said the biggest challenge facing him, city officials and the U.S. Border Patrol is that up to half the Venezuelans arriving have no “sponsor,” a family member or friend who can arrange for their transportation and housing beyond the border. “So, we’re helping them working to get them to where they want to go,” he said. “So that’s been really important – that we don’t send anyone where they don’t want to go.”