With an enormous migrant crisis at the southern border that has seen millions of migrants cross illegally during the Biden administration, and with no end in sight, Republican governors are taking increasingly aggressive action to push back.
The move this week by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to fly two planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard marks the latest such example of unorthodox and aggressive tactics by governors to bring pressure on the Biden administration and relief to overwhelmed border communities facing an unprecedented migrant wave.
In a move first reported by Fox News Digital, DeSantis sent approximately 50 migrants to the top vacation hotspot for liberal elites. It sparked outrage from Democrats and the White House, who accused DeSantis of acting cruelly and treating migrants like political pawns.
"They used them as political pawns — treated them like chattel in a cruel, premeditated political stunt," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.
DeSantis brushed off the criticism.
"We take what's happening at the southern border very seriously, unlike some," DeSantis said in a Thursday speech, "and unlike the president of the United States, who has refused to lift a finger to secure that border."
DeSantis noted that the numbers being sent to sanctuary cities and jurisdictions was just a fraction of those being encountered at the border.
"The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they go berserk, and they're so upset that this is happening. And it just shows you that their virtue-signaling is a fraud," he said.
DeSantis' move echoes previous initiatives that started in April when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began busing migrants to Washington, D.C. Since then, his state has sent migrants to New York City and Chicago. Arizona has also bused migrants to D.C. Over 10,000 migrants have now been sent to those cities — all of which describe themselves as "sanctuary cities."
The busing has caused havoc in the liberal cities. Washington, D.C., declared a public emergency, while all three have appealed for federal assistance. NYC Mayor Eric Adams recently said that the Big Apple’s social services were at "breaking point" over the migrant flow.
Despite a wave of anger from Democrats over the issue, Abbott, too, has not stood down. This week, migrant buses were sent near Vice President Kamala Harris’ D.C. residence after she said the border was "secure."
"The Biden-Harris administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years," Abbott said in a statement. "Our supposed border czar, Vice President Kamala Harris, has yet to even visit the border to see firsthand the impact of the open-border policies she has helped implement, even going so far as to claim the border is ‘secure.’"
Harris accused Republican governors of a "dereliction of duty" in a Vice News interview.
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff called the arrivals "shameful" and a "political stunt."
Abbott’s migrant busing is itself an expansion of a unique project Texas launched last year called Operation Lone Star, which surged law enforcement to the border in order to deal with the migrant crisis that has since seen more than two million migrant encounters this fiscal year alone. According to statistics released by Abbott’s office, it has resulted in over 304,000 migrant arrests and nearly 20,000 criminal arrests.
Meanwhile, the state has launched its own effort to build a wall along its southern border, after the Trump-era project was halted by the Biden administration.
Arizona has taken a similar wall-related effort, with Gov. Doug Ducey’s administration last month building a makeshift wall near Yuma, Arizona, with welded shipping containers. The construction consists of 130 double-stacked shipping containers, welded shut and topped with four feet of razor wire. His office said that it is 22 feet tall, and each container weighs nearly 9,000 lbs.
"For the last two years, Arizona has made every attempt to work with Washington to address the crisis on our border. Time and time again, we’ve stepped in to clean up their mess. Arizonans can’t wait any longer for the federal government to deliver on their delayed promises," he said.
However, with the crisis continuing with no end in sight, others are calling for more. Officials and law enforcement in both Texas and Arizona have called on the governors to declare an "invasion" at the southern border so they can use powers to expel migrants. So far, no governor has done so, although Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has promised to make such a move if elected.
In the meantime, there are no signs of the governors backing away from their confrontational stances. DeSantis said on Friday that the migrant flights are "just the beginning efforts."
"We've got an infrastructure in place now," he said. "There's going to be a lot more that's happening."
Fox News' Paul Conner, Timothy Nerozzi and Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.