Fox News host Shannon Bream confronted Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, on Sunday over a new Republican tactic of ferrying migrants from southern states to Democratic-run states.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drew attention to the scheme earlier this month when he sent a plane of about 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, allegedly without notifying local authorities. The migrants claimed they were forced onto the flight with false information that they would find jobs and accommodation upon arrival. Meanwhile, other migrants were bused to New York and to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, DC, by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
The tactic has been widely criticized as an attempt to use migrants as a political tool to draw attention to what Republicans see as a border crisis ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Bream asked Stefanik about the strategy on Fox News Sunday, referring to a Reuters/Ipsos poll indicating that only about a third of Americans support him.
“In this poll, a majority of Americans said they don’t think it’s okay to transport people this way,” Bream said. “These are real people with real lives.”
Stefanik did not address the tactic directly, instead accusing President Joe Biden of causing a border crisis by adopting more lax immigration policies. She also pointed out that despite lackluster polls on out-of-state migrant transportation, Republicans generally see high polling numbers on how they handle immigration issues and border security.
“We have this border crisis because of the amnesty policies and the big opening of the border that happened under a Democratic government, under Joe Biden,” the Republican lawmaker said.
Bream, however, replied, “But when the Republicans controlled the White House, the House, and the Senate, immigration was left unresolved. The border wasn’t fully secured.”
Stefanik said Republicans still make “significant strides” on border security when they hold majorities in Congress.
“We were tackling the border security crisis, and it unraveled from day one under Joe Biden,” the MP said.
Stefanik says Democrats are ‘encouraging illegal immigration’
In a statement to Newsweek, Stefanik criticized Democrats for implementing “radical sanctuary state policies that have encouraged a wave of illegal immigration to our state.”
Stefanik referred to a New York law that allows migrants to obtain driver’s licenses and prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from sharing information with the Department of Homeland Security as “incitement to immigration illegal” to the state.
“The most effective way for us to address the illegal immigration crisis plaguing our state and our country is to secure our southern border and end the open border and sanctuary state policies of those far-left Democrats. The quickest way to do that is to vote out those far-left Democrats. The Democrats will be removed from office in November,” Stefanik wrote.
Democrats have defended their handling of immigration, calling the policies enacted by former President Donald Trump and embraced by most GOPs inhumane. They indicate that external factors, including political and economic turmoil in some Central and South American countries, contribute more to the increase in migration than any domestic policy suited to the United States.
GOP bus tactic criticized
In recent polls, voters said Republicans are stronger on border security issues, but diverged from the GOP on the tactic of ferrying migrants to Democratic-led states. Only 29% of Americans support the tactic, according to the Reuters poll. Meanwhile, 40% opposed it.
Even some Republicans have expressed discomfort with the practice. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, described it as “disturbing” during an appearance on Fox News last week.
“I’m personally watching what’s going on, and it’s very hard to see on the southern border, too – we have to remember that these are human beings, these are people, so to see them being used as political pawns somehow is very troubling to me,” he said.