Gov. Ron DeSantis sends two planes of 'illegal immigrants' to Martha's Vineyard
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two planes of immigrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard, a move made by Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration, his spokesperson said.
The migrants were mostly Venezuelans seeking asylum from a violent government. They crossed the Texas border and were flown from San Antonio. It's unclear if any of them ever planned to come to Florida.
"Yes, Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations," the governor’s communications director, Taryn Fenske, told Fox News.
Video provided to FOX News showed migrants deboarding the planes at Martha’s Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts.
"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," Fenske went on to say."As you may know, in this past legislative session the Florida legislature appropriated $12 million to implement a program to facilitate the transport of illegal immigrants from this state consistent with federal law.
It's unclear how much taxpayer money was spent to transport the migrants up north. It's also unknown if they were promised anything before the trip or if they traveled voluntarily. FOX 13 reached out to the governor's office for additional details.
While DeSantis’ office didn’t further elaborate on their legal status, many migrants who cross the border illegally from Mexico are temporarily shielded from deportation after being freed by U.S. authorities to pursue asylum in immigration court — as allowed under U.S law and international treaty — or released on humanitarian parole.
The office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said he was in touch with local officials and that short-term shelter was being provided.
"The Baker-Polito Administration is in touch with local officials regarding the arrival of migrants in Martha’s Vineyard," Terry MacCormack, Baker's press secretary, wrote. "At this time, short-term shelter services are being provided by local officials, and the Administration will continue to support those efforts."
Massachusetts State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat who represents the district that includes Martha’s Vineyard, told FOX 13 the migrants were sent there based on false information.
"Some people some of them were told they were going to New York or other cities, some were told they were going to an immigration meeting," Fernandes said. "They were told that once they arrived here, they didn't really have jobs and a place to live, so they were shipped here as a lie and really just treated like cattle instead of people. This island community rallied behind them immediately, getting the resources that they needed, finding a place for them to stay, getting everyone a bed, [getting] everyone food, shelter, water, medical services that they needed."
The Florida Legislature appropriated $12 million to transport "illegal immigrants" from the state consistent with federal law, Fenske said.
DeSantis, a Republican, proposed Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard as a destination for such migrants, but his office explained at the time that they could also be sent "to other 'progressive' states whose governors endorse blatant violations of federal immigration law."
"It is not the responsibility of Floridians to subsidize aliens to reside in our state unlawfully; we did not consent to Biden’s open-borders agenda," the governor’s office said at the time.
Immigrants arrive at Martha's Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts on Sept. 14, 2022. (Video provided to Fox News Digital)
In November, DeSantis said dozens of migrant flights landed in Florida at the behest of the Biden administration, and he threatened at that time to send them to Delaware on buses.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began busing thousands of migrants to Washington in April and recently added New York and Chicago as destinations. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has been busing migrants to Washington since May. Passengers must sign waivers that the free trips are voluntary.
DeSantis, who is mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, appears to be taking the strategy to a new level by using planes and choosing Martha’s Vineyard, whose harbor towns that are home to about 15,000 people are far less prepared than New York or Washington for large influxes of migrants.
The move is likely to delight DeSantis’ supporters who deride Democrat-led, immigrant-friendly "sanctuary" cities and anger critics who say he is weaponizing migrants as pawns for political gain.
FOX News and the Associated Press contributed to this report