Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken credit for sending two charter planes filled with migrants to the island of Martha's Vineyard.
The migrants, reportedly 50 men, women and children, were dropped off at the airport with nothing but a brochure from the island's service center, officials said.
According to state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat from Falmouth, the migrants were dropped off on Martha's Vineyard by chartered flights from Texas.
"Many don't know where they are," he said in a tweet. "They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs."
“Islanders were given no notice but are coming together as a community to support them,” he said.
The migrants were given COVID tests, food and water. They spent the night in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edgartown.
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Unexpected arrival: 50 migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard, DeSantis takes credit
Who is Ron DeSantis?
Desantis has risen to a place of power in the Republican party after being elected governor of Florida in 2019. He is being challenged for reelection by Democrat Charlie Crist, who served as governor from 2007-11.
The Yale-educated DeSantis also graduated from Harvard Law School. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a member of the U.S. Navy, later becoming a federal prosecutor.
DeSantis has been at the center of several political controversies as national pundits speculate about his intentions to run for president. He has drawn headlines in recent years for battling against COVID restrictions and vaccine mandates. He advocated for the passage of Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" law, which limits discussions in state classrooms of sexual orientation and gender identity. When Disney relented to pressure and spoke out against the issue, DeSantis went after the media giant, threatening to punish Disney for its opposition.
Amid the culture war controversies in Florida surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the teaching of the history of racism in the U.S., DeSantis has also made waves by unveiling a new election crimes unit, which charged 20 ex-felons with voter fraud.
These moves have drawn protests from liberal-leaning commentators, but have bolstered DaSantis among Republicans. Poll numbers show his rising popularity among prospective presidential candidates.
Why is Ron DeSantis sending migrants to Martha's Vineyard?
DeSantis is the latest Republican governor to send migrants crossing the U.S. border illegally to liberal-leaning states.
On Thursday, buses carrying more than 100 migrants reportedly arrived outside the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. Previously, buses loaded with migrants were sent from Arizona and Texas to Washington D.C., New York and Chicago.
After news of the planes arriving on Martha's Vineyard broke, DeSantis' communications director said, "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...'"
Florida's legislature approved $12 million to fund shipping migrants out of Florida. A DeSantis administration official, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, sparked controversy when she said the governor would send undocumented Cuban migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border to President Biden’s home state of Delaware.
Is Massachusetts a sanctuary state?
Some state lawmakers and immigration advocates have been pushing for the passage of official sanctuary state legislation, but the measure has stalled for years.
However, a 2017 ruling by the state supreme court effectively made Massachusetts a sanctuary state, according to Fair.org, an immigration reform advocacy group that lists 10 other sanctuary states in the U.S.: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Washington D.C.
Advocacy efforts: Mass. Immigrant activists renew push for 'sanctuary state' bill
The state's high court ruled in 2017 that Massachusetts court officers – and potentially all state and local law enforcement officials – do not have the authority to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally, even if asked to do so by federal officials.
That decision came after sheriffs in Bristol and Plymouth counties signed agreements to perform immigration law enforcement functions on the local level.
The court's ruling: Mass. high court curbs police authority to detain illegal immigrants
Where did the migrants on Martha's Vineyard come from?
Details on the native countries of the immigrants dropped at the Martha's Vineyard airport are incomplete.
The New York Times reported the immigrants appear to mostly be from Venezuela, and spoke with one man who said he left Venezuela about three months ago, traveling north through Central America and Mexico.
NPR reported the migrants were picked in Texas, with the flights originating from San Antonio.
Who is immigrating to the US?: Cubans, Haitians are fleeing to US in historic numbers. These crises are fueling migration.
Venezuelan leaders in Florida have criticized DeSantis, calling the governor’s move a “blatant disregard for human life,” and accusing him of lying to Cuban and Venezuelan communities earlier this month, when they said he pledged not to send migrants from either country out of state.
Immigrant vs Migrant: Here's the difference in the meaning of the words
"Immigrants generally are people who move to a different country with the intention of settling there," according to the Associated Press Stylebook. "This term, rather than migrants, is most commonly used for people established in the U.S., which usually is their final destination. It also is used when another specific country is the final destination."
"Migrants generally are people who are on the move, sometimes for economic reasons, either within one country or across borders," according to the Stylebook. "The term migrant also may be used for those whose reason for leaving their home country is not clear, or to cover people who may also be refugees or asylum-seekers."
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Ron DeSantis flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard. Why?