Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, one-upped his Texas counterpart, Greg Abbott, by sending two planeloads of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, part of a monthslong campaign to troll liberal cities and states by transferring many asylum seekers to those communities. The migrants were flown Friday from Martha's Vineyard to a military base on Cape Cod. A DeSantis spokeswoman called the airlift “part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” saying that “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.” There is no such “open border," says the New York Times. Many of these migrants are using U.S. asylum laws that afford them the opportunity for a court hearing to determine whether they qualify to stay, as thousands did during the Trump administration and the Obama administration before that. Most were apprehended by federal law enforcement agents or turned themselves in, enabling DeSantis to fly them in the first place.
“Playing politics with people’s lives is what governors like George Wallace did during segregation,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). “Ron DeSantis is trying to earn George Wallace’s legacy.” Moulton was referring to the “reverse freedom rides” of 1962, when segregationists used false promises of jobs and housing to trick Black Southerners into moving north. For decades, Congress has failed to overhaul immigration laws, which both parties acknowledge are badly out of step with what is happening along the U.S.-Mexico border. They differ wildly on the proposed remedies. The political calculations for DeSantis and Abbott are clear. Immigration is a powerful motivating issue for Republican-base voters, especially in border states like Arizona and Texas. Gil Kerlikowske, a former Customs and Border Protection commissioner on Thursday found that border politics had followed him to his home on Martha’s Vineyard. Kerlikowske noted that thousands of migrants crossed over the border during the George W. Bush administration as well. “It just kind of shows the ignorance of DeSantis,” Kerlikowske said, advising the governor to pressure Florida’s congressional delegation to pass new immigration laws instead. “If he wanted to highlight where the problem is, he should have sent them to [Sen.] Marco Rubio and Rick Scott’s homes.”