OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing back hard on Democrat claims regarding a group of illegal migrants he sent to the ritzy liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard last week.
Several Democrats have accused DeSantis of legal violations including “human trafficking,” the latter a charge leveled against him by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who suggested as much in a letter sent last week to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Some have also said DeSantis “falsely lured” or “enticed” the migrants to the island off of Massachusetts, claims he addressed during a news conference on Friday.
“I think that’s totally false,” he said in answer to a question from a reporter. “I think if you look, the folks that are contracted, not only do they give them a release form to sign, they actually give them a packet and in that packet included a map of Martha’s Vineyard. So it was obvious that that’s where they were going, and they gave that to them.
“And here’s the thing, it’s all voluntary because it’s just the type of thing where we think that’s the right way to do it,” DeSantis added, according to The Daily Wire. “I mean, I think that if the states could send, I would send back to Mexico or back to the home country.
“But here we are doing it voluntarily, they sign a release, and then they get a packet. So they did get a packet that had the map of Martha’s Vineyard. And they’re also treated, you know very well with all this, I mean, they’re treated well with meals and everything,” he continued.
The popular governor then addressed a claim made by left-wing figures on a CNN program last week who tried to liken his actions to the Holocaust.
“I saw somebody on CNN try to say, ‘sending 50 illegal aliens to wealthy Martha’s Vineyard is reminiscent of the Holocaust,’” DeSantis said. “And I just thought to myself, has the world gotten totally mad? I mean, these are voluntary transportation that they’re signing up for, but they’re given a good ride, they’re given everything. And that’s just you know, it’s a humane thing to do.”
DeSantis then laid the blame for the ongoing migrant and drug-smuggling crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border on President Joe Biden’s reversal of nearly all of former President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement policies.
“What’s not humane, is what Biden is doing, he’s given a false promise, the border’s open, luring people to come here for political purposes, and then basically cutting these people loose and leaving them high and dry,” DeSantis said.
“What he should say is, ‘our border’s not open. You know, there’s ways to apply to come to this country, but just simply barreling across the border is not one of them.’ And I think you can trace all this back to him coming to office and reversing President Trump’s policies, not because Trump’s policies were wrong, it was all just a big virtue signal because they don’t like Trump. So they have to do everything the opposite of him,” he said.
"I saw somebody on CNN try to say sending 50 illegal aliens to wealthy Martha's Vineyard is reminiscent of the Holocaust. And I thought to myself, has the world gone totally mad? I mean this is voluntary transportation they're signing up for." – @RonDeSantisFL 🔥 pic.twitter.com/1A3TqwjpUk
— DeSantis War Room 🐋 (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 16, 2022
NPR noted that DeSantis has regularly brought up Martha’s Vineyard in press conferences discussing illegal migrants that the Biden administration has sent to Florida, often without notifying state and local authorities.
In a speech Friday, DeSantis hinted that he could be sending more illegal migrants not just to Martha’s Vineyard but other deep-blue “sanctuary” cities and communities.
“I do have this money. I want to be helpful. Maybe we will go to Texas and help. Maybe we’ll send to Chicago, Hollywood, Martha’s Vineyard. Who knows?” he said to applause, according to a source who spoke to the Washington Post.
The paper added: “DeSantis sent two planes full of migrants Wednesday to Martha’s Vineyard, a tony island enclave in Massachusetts, where several prominent Democrats, including former president Barack Obama, have homes. This followed similar efforts by the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona to offer migrants free bus rides to more liberal parts of the country.”