Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refuses to confirm reports that migrants may be headed to Delaware as state scrambles to prepare to help

·4 min read
Venezuelan migrants
Venezuelan migrants gather on September 16, 2022 outside of St. Andrew's Parish House. Two planes of migrants from Venezuela arrived suddenly two days prior causing the local community to mobilize and create a makeshift shelter at the church.Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
  • Delaware is preparing for a surprise arrival of migrants on Tuesday.

  • There is speculation that migrants could be sent to President Joe Biden's home state.

  • Public officials are working to ensure any migrants who arrive will have support, a spokeswoman for the governor said.

Delaware is preparing for the possibility of a surprise arrival of migrants in the town of Georgetown on Tuesday amid speculation that they soon could be flown to President Joe Biden's home state.

The speculation follows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decisions last week to send migrants to Martha's Vineyard, a well-to-do island where the Obamas have an estate, and Vice President Kamala Harris' home in Washington, DC, to protest the Biden administration's border policies.

DeSantis would not confirm the reports about flights headed to Delaware when asked about it during a press conference in Brandenton, Florida, on Tuesday. Instead, he defended his actions regarding the Martha's Vineyard flights from last week and said that he had forced the issue of illegal immigration and border security into the "front burner" of the national conversation.

Related video: 46 migrants found dead inside tractor trailer in San Antonio

The Biden administration, DeSantis said, was "basically ignoring that the problem exists."

"Those migrants were being treated horribly by Biden," he said. "They were hungry, homeless, they had no opportunity at all."

Delaware officials are preparing for the migrants' arrival. Teams at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and Delaware Department of Health and Social Services "are working with community organizations and other partners to make sure that migrants who arrive here have the support that they need," Delaware Gov. John Carney's spokesperson Emily David Hershman said in a statement.

"We are coordinating with Federal officials and are prepared to welcome these families in an orderly manner as they pursue their asylum claims, she added.

Last week, DeSantis, a Republican who is running for re-election and is considered a 2024 presidential contender, chartered two planes to transport about 50 undocumented migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to the Massachusetts island as part of Florida's "relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations."

DeSantis' actions helped to shift the national conversation to immigration ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Polling from NBC News shows voters favor Republicans on the issues of border security and immigration.

But it's not clear whether DeSantis is allowed to use state funds to move people out of Texas. Reports have also revealed that migrants may have been mislead about the flights.

A Texas sheriff announced on Monday that he is opening a criminal investigation into the transport of migrants to Martha's Vineyard, saying they were "lured" with "promises of a better life."

DeSantis had suggested in November that he could send migrants to Biden's home state of Delaware. Newsweek reportered on Tuesday that the same aircraft that flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard is bound for Delaware Coastal Airport in Sussex County, Delaware, "though there is no evidence at this time that migrants will be on board."

The News Journal of Wilmington reports that churches were on "high alert."

"If this happens, we're gonna be as generous as we can be and do exactly what Jesus told us to do, which is love our neighbor as we love ourselves," St. Paul's Episcopal Church Pastor Elizabeth Kaeton told the newspaper.

Last week, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted "Rehoboth Beach, Delaware next" and tagged Abbott and DeSantis.

—Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 16, 2022

 

DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske in a statement fired back at news of the investigation in Texas.

"Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless, and 'left to fend for themselves.' Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected," she said. "Unless the MA national guard has abandoned these individuals, they have been provided accommodations, sustenance, clothing and more options to succeed following their unfair enticement into the United States, unlike the 53 immigrants who died in a truck found abandoned in Bexar County this June."

DeSantis has defended the state going into Texas to move people to another state. On Tuesday he said that 40% of people who enter the US through border states then head to Florida. But he would not confirm the Delaware flights when asked about them directly by a reporter.

"I cannot confirm that," DeSantis said. "I can't."

This story has been updated with comments from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Read the original article on Business Insider