Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis claims responsibility for sending two planes carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Wednesday, according to a statement emailed to CNN from his office.
“Florida can confirm that the two aircraft with illegal immigrants that arrived at Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” the statement said.
“States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these people they have invited to our country by encouraging illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and by supporting the policies of Biden Administration’s Opening Borders.”
About 50 migrants arrived at Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday on two planes, according to Massachusetts State Senator Julian Cyr, a Democrat who represents Martha’s Vineyard. The two planes arrived just after 3 p.m., Cyr said, and white vans took the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
“There was no advance warn anyone in Martha’s Vineyard or Massachusetts that these migrants were coming to my knowledge,” Cyr said.
“The island rushed to respond,” he added. “They basically put up shelters, the equivalent of a hurricane or Nor’easter. They set this up within hours and these families received a meal. They have been Covid tested and are staying overnight in shelters at several churches on the island.
City officials and state officials are in contact on next steps, but Cyr stressed that the current focus is on supporting the migrants who have arrived.
This decision follows in the footsteps of Republican governors. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona, who began sending migrants to Washington, DC, earlier this year. Abbott has since expanded its efforts to include New York and Chicago.
Migrants released from government custody often move to other cities in the United States during their immigration process. It is unclear where the migrants who arrived at Martha’s Vineyard came from or if they knew where they were going.
The Dukes County Emergency Management Association said in a tweet Wednesday night that he was taking volunteers and opening emergency shelters on Martha’s Vineyard “due to an ‘urgent and unexpected humanitarian situation.’
Terry MacCormack, press secretary for Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WBZ, “The Baker-Polito administration is in contact with local authorities regarding the arrival of migrants in Martha’s Vineyard. Currently, short-term accommodation services are provided by local officials, and the administration will continue to support these efforts.
DeSantis’ claim drew a strong backlash Wednesday from Florida Democratic officials.
“Even for Ron DeSantis, it’s a new low.” Florida Democratic President Manny Diaz said in a statement. “There’s nothing DeSantis won’t do, and nobody he won’t hurt, in order to score political points.”
Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, said in a statement, “This is just another political stunt that is hurting our state. Tonight, the 4.5 million immigrants who live in Florida must be wondering if they are next.