Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) offered a little more insight Tuesday into why he spends hundreds of thousands in state taxpayer dollars chartering private flights to transport migrants to states hundreds of miles away.
Lately, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have developed a strategy to raise awareness of the increase in people crossing the southern border of the US by taking them by bus to cities run by their political rivals. Last week, DeSantis entered and claimed credit for two flights from San Antonio to the Tony Island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
One of the many legal and ethical questions DeSantis raised with his stunt was a simple logistical one: Why didn’t he start with migrants in his own state?
“The problem is, we don’t see massive movements of them to Florida, so you end up with a car with maybe two,” DeSantis told reporters at a news conference.
“It just comes in onesie, twosies,” he said.
DeSantis apparently tries to discourage migrants from thinking they can settle in his state, saying his administration has done “a lot of intelligence” on the matter and found that 30 to 40 percent of people trying to cross the southern border of the US, want to end up in Florida.
“And so we have to go find out, okay, who are those people likely to be? And if you can do it at the source and redirect to shrine jurisdictions, the chances of them ending up in Florida are much smaller,” DeSantis said.
Last Wednesday, about 50 migrants — most from Venezuela — were left to their own devices when they arrived at Martha’s Vineyard, as no one at DeSantis’ camp had notified local authorities of the plan.
Authorities in Delaware spent much of Tuesday preparing for the possibility that DeSantis would send another planeload of migrants there. Flight-tracking websites indicated that the planes that took off from San Antonio last week plotted a similar course to a small airport near President Joe Biden’s home, but the flights did not take off as planned.
The migrants brought to Martha’s Vineyard filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis and his administration on Tuesday, over reports that they had been deliberately misled about the circumstances of their trip.
Although the Florida governor has been widely criticized for inhumane treatment of migrants, he has gained widespread support in his own party.
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his approval of the idea of transporting migrants to northern cities.
“Personally, I thought it was a good idea,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, “If you add up all the illegal aliens who were brought to Chicago or Washington or Martha’s Vineyard, it would be less than what people in Texas have to deal with on a daily basis. ”
The wave of migration along the border with Mexico is the result of years of political and economic instability in countries in Central and South America. People entering southern border states either want to apply for asylum protection or remain in the country illegally to live and work in relative safety.