At least 50 undocumented migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard on Wednesday, Sept. 14, on the order of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, multiple news reports said. Island residents did not know about this beforehand and had to scramble to accommodate them.
Shortly after the plane landed, volunteers and organizers sprung into action on Martha's Vineyard to create a living space for the immigrants. State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, whose district includes the island, said locals and area agencies had stepped up to provide beds, food, medical care, and an area for children to play, officials told the New York Times.
State reps told NBC10 that Florida gave them no prior notice about the men, women, and children being shipped to Massachusetts.
"There was no advance notice of these migrant families arriving," said State Sen. Julian Cyr, who represents the Cape and Islands. Cyr told The New York Times that the towns on the island were following similar protocols that they would after a natural disaster.
Nor did some of the migrants know where they were going when they were put onto planes Wednesday morning, Rep. Fernandes said.
"Some of these people, I've been told, traveled months just to get to the border and then were sent here in an airplane with very little information about where they're going or why they were going there," he told the news station.
This is a new tactic from Republican governors. It is a challenge for so-called sanctuary cities to back up that title. Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bussed 9,000 asylum seekers to New York and Washington, D.C., CNN reported. The practice has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
Taryn M. Fenske, Gov. DeSantis' communication manager, told The New York Times that the move was in the best interest of the immigrants.
“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’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” she told the newspaper.
That sentiment may be true. One of the men who the Times only identified as Leonel said he's been in the country for three months and hasn't been able to purchase new clothes or shoes during that time. He said a volunteer gave him a free pair of shoes only hours after he landed on Martha's Vineyard. Leonel said the generosity so far has been overwhelming.
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