The big story in the news over the past couple of days is that Florida governor Ron DeSantis chartered two planes to fly about 50 migrants, most of whom were from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts. The story is still developing. Although DeSantis is the governor of Florida, the migrants appear to have come from Texas, and it currently appears that they were lured onto the planes—paid for with taxpayer money—with the false promise of work and housing in New York City or Boston. In addition, there are allegations from a lawyer working with the migrants that officials from the Department of Homeland Security falsified information about the migrants to set them up for automatic deportation. As I write this, it is not clear what their actual status is: have they applied for asylum and been processed, or are they undocumented immigrants?
I am appalled. The cruelty of little Mussolini of Florida is beyond words. Using these desperate people as political pawns. It is so disgusting and surely illegal. I am so proud of the Martha’s Vineyard community for the care and welcome they provided. They are the true patriots. And the confederate governors are traitors once again.
I sincerely hope that campaigns running against self-proclaimed "Christians" like DeSantis, Abbot, Ducey, and the like will hammer home how _un_Christian, un-Christ-like, amoral, depraved, and unfit to lead human beings these "governors" are. None of them seems to have an acquaintance with the Gospels and the tenderness of their Savior towards the stranger and the least of us. Most atheists and agnostics I know are far more Christ-like in their values and the way they live their lives and treat others than right-wing pseudo-Christians and their so-called leaders.
It is time for liberals and kindred spirits to take the moral high ground on this issue and say enough.
Lord knows our federal agents have plenty on their hands at the moment, but busing and flying undocumented aliens across state lines, particularly under false pretense must violate some state and federal laws. Why would a charter plane from Texas touch down in Florida on it's way to Martha's Vineyard? Someone thought it would somehow justify expenditure of Florida public money moving people from Texas to Massachusetts, no doubt. Were I the feds, I'd hustle on down to Florida, serve Mr DeSantis, arrest him on human trafficking charges, transport him to an FBI office or federal prison for processing, hold him 72 hours in a little cell with a metal toilet( no privacy screen) on "suicide watch" with the bright lights on all night, then release him with an ankle bracelet pending a hearing. If it turns out that he didn't commit a crime, then an "oopsie daisy, so sorry" would still have him thinking twice about pulling that kind of stunt again, as would his cohorts in Texas and Arizona. Or, perhaps, the feds should make a practice of transporting federal prisoners to one of their facilities in Texas, then releasing them on parole in Brownsville without a bus ticket. All perfectly legal, of course. Same for Miami, or even down in the Keys. you didn't hear it here...
DeSantis may be burnishing his MAGA credentials, but this will not help him win win the presidency. And the inhumane, very expensive stunt will not win any votes for reelection as governor.
Meanwhile, the residents of Martha’s Vineyard showed the nation and the world that true American values are alive and well.
"Christian Nationalism" is to Christianity as "National Socialism" is to Socialism, as Fundamentalism is to any religion.
Political stunts and misinformation are so much easier than the hard work of good government. Stunts and misinformation are entertaining. They are distracting. You can stay in office without any sweat.
DeSantis used taxpayers money to charter these planes, no doubt. Before they were lured onto these flights, these innocent desperate people were promised food, clothing, and housing by a woman named “Perla”. She was more than likely hired by DeSantis’ crew to do their bidding. The cruelty of even abusing families and children again is unconscionable! Heather, are your lips chapped? Mine are chafed from me biting them so hard. Why...why are these white men so hateful, so mean?
We need to give the Ronald a one way ticket to Hungary, or Belarus. Tell him he’s going to Bedminster, NJ.
Thank you Heather.
I never thought I would have to add human traffickers to the list of descriptions for members of the GOP, but here we are.
Be safe. Be well.
It seems to me that in moving these people and using them inhumanely as political pawns, that laws are being broken. Not only by DeSantis and Abbott, but also the people who are doing their bidding. We need to arrest and charge people who are involved -- from the governors to the pilots to the guy or gal with the roster checklist. When people realize that there is individual culpability to these actions they will balk at following patently illegal orders.
Good morning. I live on Martha's Vineyard and watched the news reports of the plane full of Venezuelan men, women and children arriving, who at first were bewildered and confused. In a world of anger and cynicism, the Vineyard community rallied around these refugees and gave them shelter, food, and love. It was a proud moment. We were told there was no need for more help or money, the outpouring was so immediate and significant. The local and state officials went to work to arrange for a longer stay on the Cape for the group while permanent arrangements could be made for them. It was a proud moment too for Massachusetts. And DeSantis in his incomparable ignorance felt he struck a blow against the liberals, assuming that all Vineyarders are rich liberals. The year-around population is largely working class, fishermen, nurses, teachers, caretakers, farmers, painters, electricians, etc. Over 30% are Brazilian. It's a beautiful place everyone cares for deeply regardless of social status such that the islanders have put 40% of the land into conservation. Sadly as rental prices rise, many people are forced to move elsewhere. But that's another story. We love America too, it's great expanses, valleys, rivers, forests, small towns, big cities. We all want to protect and care for the country, the land and the values in this time of climate change and despotism. We shutter at the hate that drives DeSantis and Trump and cry that the country is in the grip of vultures who feed off of people's fear. I prefer goodness, tolerance and wisdom and the spirit that "We're all in this together." That's why I read your blog and feel grateful that you take the time to write. Thank you.
Thank you for illuminating this complicated issue. On another sub stack I asked about changing the emphasis on "immigrants" to "refugees," similar to the asylum seekers in other parts of the world. Somehow, that changes the focus from NIMBY to compassion. I hope we might seek advice and solutions from international agencies, too, but I didn't realize all that as been done already until your letter, Heather.
I think it behooves all of us everywhere to realize that climate chaos will make "stateless wanderers" and crippled nations an increasing phenomenon. America and Americans should do everything we can to be part of the solution as it will be our problem, too.
Question: When, in the entire history of the United States has there been an expansion of the economy, and a decrease in immigration? Well folks....NEVER. Every economic expansion has run congruent with population growth of both immigration and higher birth rates.
Over the next several decades because of the low US birthrate, 1.6 and failure to enact sensible immigration policies, economists are forecasting that the depleted US work force will sap economic growth. Even STEM employees critical to US technological growth are frustrated by the US failure to retain top foreign flight talent, Republican opposition to immigration reform and their political stunts to inflame public opinion will cause long term damage to the US economy and create a nation in decline.
I will go on record as opposing the use of humans as props, which the good gentleman from Florida is clearly doing. It is a cruel stunt to be sure and one of the least Christian things I can think of to do to prove a point, but that's just good ol' Ron. The feeder of red meat to his base and at best a cruel way to prove a point.
I REALLY appreciate HCR providing a historical lense on this issue as I think some of the deets from the history of the debate about immigration have been lost... particularly the ways our good friends on the R side of the aisle have thwarted meaningful progress on the issue for decades... like many of their strategies, the immigration issue is wrapped up in their obsession around the violence that is prevalent in the countries from which these largely peaceful, scared, desperate people come from.
Their line has always been that these folks are the worst-of-the-worst and bringing crime and drugs to OUR Country. In my experience, in the upper midwest, as a prosecutor myself, I have not seen evidence of that which they attribute to them. I HAVE seen hard-working, albeit undocumented, folks who get into trouble with alcohol and domestic violence situations likely from the STRESS they experience in managing their fear and still trying to provide for the families they leave behind but continue to support: but never the crazed cabal of evil-doers that our good friends across the aisle portray: I just haven't seen them in my 20 years of doing this work...
I am unclear on numbers, but I suspect the BETTER use of taxpayer dollars is with USAID and prevention and support in the countries these folks are fleeing. Not to diminsh the efforts and effect that supporting Ukraine, in a largely bipartisan way, but IF we committed similar funds to support the fragile governments and economies of some of these Central and South American countires, perhaps we would get more bang for the buck than with the current and sadly (even Obama) path of deterrence at the border (which seems a fools'-errand at this point...
I spend a fair amount of time in Mexico and Central America. I've found the people there (shockingly) much like us. They live their lives, want their kids to do better, and want peaceful existence. They don't come to America to commit crime: they come to advance the same goals we have for ourselves. That's it. It's really tragic that HCR has pointed out that even when we thought we had a good way forward, the good folks on the other side of the aisle couldn't see-fit to make it work and the criminalization of this has led to very tragic consequences for all of us, American business included.
Since the right wing of the Republican party has weaponized immigration, its message cannot change: immigrants (at least from the south) are evil-doers and must be stopped. Sadly, with that as a premier-calling-card for their base: they cannot and will not give an inch on it. They can't. So the migrant-workers we need to give us our, "whole foods 365 organic spinach," can't come here and the same people I see everyday putting roofs on houses are not welcome... has anyone asked these folks if they even like being here, doing the work that apparently no "American" will do?
I'll bet if Ron was honest with himself, he'd realize that much of the labor in his own state is provided by the very folks he decided to arbitrarily "ship" to Cape Cod. His own state's economy would collapse without that injection of labor. But that is not his point, of course. And I get his point.
IF we view the good Governor's stunt in the light most-favorable; he is trying to create a National dialogue, which I encourage. But it needs to have a tail. He needs to be in a National conversation about this and one that his friends in his aisle will have and do something about. But I hear very-little from their caucus about addressing the issue other than to do and say what they always say and do: NO. NOTHING. ALL BAD. To give that position up is sadly to give the whole political point up. I don't see the Republican (MAGA) party doing that anytime soon...
Thank you for putting current events in historical context.