Mathilda Simons, Grade 10, Staff Writer
In early September, two planes carrying a total of about 50 migrant asylum seekers landed in Martha’s Vineyard. The Venezuelan migrants had been staying in a shelter in San Antonio, Texas after having crossed the border from Mexico. They originally crossed the border without permission, but had turned themselves in to border officials and were waiting for their proceedings. They were recruited to get on the plane with false promises of improvements in their lives and were even given a false destination.
The migrants boarded the plane after they were approached by a woman called “Perla.” Perla was supposedly sent by Florida’s government to recruit the migrants. She made promises of food and expedited work papers once they were to land in Boston. One of the migrants, 30 year old Andre Duarte, said that “She offered us help. Help that never arrived.”
The Martha’s Vineyard case drew particular attention due to the circumstances. When the migrants arrived in Martha’s Vineyard rather than Boston, they had no idea where they were. In fact, the citizens of Martha’s Vineyard were given no notice of their arrival, meaning there were limited supplies available at the time of their arrival. Some beds, clothing, toothbrushes, and other necessities were available, but there was not enough.
This event stems from a now common policy move originating in spring of 2022 by Republican governors: move groups of migrants to liberal states to send a message, blaming them for what they see as “promotion” of migrants crossing the border into the United States. In this case, Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis funded the flights from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, spending approximately $615,000. Texas governor Greg Abbott says that he was not aware that this was going to happen, and claims that he played no part in the decision to fly the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
The migrants arrived, confused and helpless, in a destination different from where they expected. While it is legal to facilitate travel within the United States, a state government is not allowed to pay for that travel. Along with this issue, the migrants claim that the trip was a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme,” thus filing a complaint against Governor Rob DeSantis and other Florida state officials.
This is only one chapter of a much larger story. Ron DeSantis set aside $12 million for this project, saying that Northeastern states such as New York and Massachusetts should take more responsibility for taking in the migrants. Thousands of migrants have also been bussed from Arizona and Texas to New York City, Washington D.C., and other liberal cities. Texas even sent between 75 and 100 migrants to the Naval Observatory Campus in Washington D.C., where Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff live.
Many feel that this policy weaponizes migrants and their presence within the United States, using the lives of real people to send political messages. . Representative Dylan Fernandes of Martha’s Vineyard explains that the governor of Florida doesn’t see the value to these people’s lives. “We have the governor of Florida ... hatching a secret plot to send immigrant families like cattle on an airplane.” However, southern Republican states feel that it is not fair that they must take in the highest amount of migrants.
The migrants are now in Joint Base Cod, where Massachusetts says they will receive food, shelter, and other essentials. However, they are likely not the last of migrants to be moved throughout the United States.