Democrats Condemn DeSantis Flying Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Avoid Addressing Biden’s Handling of Border Crisis

September 16, 2022 Updated 9:38 AM ET

Gov. Ron DeSantis (left, Gage Skidmore), President Joe Biden (right, James Webb Space Telescope).
Gov. Ron DeSantis (left, Gage Skidmore), President Joe Biden (right, James Webb Space Telescope).

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Florida Democrats slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis for flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, but either did not respond or dodged questions about their thoughts on how the Biden Administration has handled the surge of migrants traveling across the U.S. southern border.

Thursday, Democrat candidate for governor Charlie Crist called a press conference to discuss the “horror” of DeSantis flying two planes of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

“It’s amazing to me what he’s willing to do for sheer political gain and to use people in this way,” Crist said. “When you are this inhumane in how you treat human beings, you’re not qualified to be governor of anything.”

However, Crist dodged several questions from reporters when they asked how he specifically would handle the influx of immigrants from the southern border.

LAWRENCE MOWER (TAMPA BAY TIMES): “What do you make of the President’s immigration policies and the situation on the border?”

CHARLIE CRIST: “Well, what I do have an opinion on is what the governor is doing. And these kinds of tactics, political tactics that he’s utilizing, look, if he had a problem with any kind of policy of the Biden Administration, he can voice it.”

Glenna Milberg, a WPLG reporter, explained how asylum seekers and border crossers are interviewed, paroled, and taken to a shelter while they wait for their court process.

GLENNA MILBERG: “Because they come to Florida, the governor has taken this opportunity, you know, to your point, to make a big deal out of taking them out of Florida…. What is the appropriate measure? For that process, especially now when there are record numbers of people crossing the border?”

CHARLIE CRIST: “Well do it in a humane fashion, Glenna. I mean, this is inappropriate. This is wrong. And if the governor isn’t smarter than this, we have a we have a real problem in the governor’s mansion…(cont.)”

GLENNA MILBERG: “But as a follow up, so what would your suggestion to changes be? What would be the more humane and appropriate process?”

CHARLIE CRIST: “Well, it would be not to lie to people to lure them on an airplane to a place where they don’t even know where they’re going for a reason.”

LIBBEY DEAN (WFLA): “So we’ve seen other governors doing this as well, like Abbott in Texas busing these migrants to other cities. So if you were governor, what are specific solutions that you would propose that are completely different than the solutions that are being used currently?”

CHARLIE CRIST: “Well, I wouldn’t ship them around like they’re animals like they’re cattle, I would not do that. Ron DeSantis is willing to do that… (cont.)”

LIBBEY DEAN (WFLA): “If I could do just have a follow up question, so what would you have done with these migrants?”

CHARLIE CRIST: “Well, I wouldn’t have shipped them on a plane, I wouldn’t have lied to them. I would have kept them in Florida and treated them humanely and given them comfort and make sure they were fed and nourished and treated like human beings. I would do the opposite of what he’s done.”

DeSantis has been very vocal about the Biden Administration’s handling of the southern border. The Florida legislature approved $12 million in the state budget to bus illegal immigrants from the state to other Democrat controlled states and “sanctuary destinations.”

“We’re not a sanctuary state. We don’t have benefits or any of that. There are some sanctuary jurisdictions and that would be better,” DeSantis said Thursday. “Now what would be best is for Biden to do is damn job and secure the border.”

Since January of 2021, U.S. law enforcement has encountered more than 2.6 million migrants trying to enter the country illegally from the southern border, according to a June of 2022 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Minority Report. The highest monthly total reached 234,088 in April 2022, with the numbers of illegal migrants from outside Mexico and northern Central America increasing almost nine times in more than a year.

Florida’s Voice asked Democrat candidates Raquel Pacheco, Charlie Crist, Sen. Janet Cruz, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and Rep. Anna Eskamani Thursday morning several times about the situation at the southern border.

All of the candidates were asked the following questions and were encouraged to provide any additional comments:

– What are your thoughts on the number of border crossings? 
– What do you think of the Biden Administration’s handling of the border situation? 
– Do you think the border is secure?
– How do you think Florida should handle illegal immigrants coming through the southern border (or should Florida not be involved in the first place)? 
– Should it be Florida’s responsibility to handle illegal immigrants?
– What are your thoughts on sanctuary cities? 

None of the candidates responded to the questions sent via email and social media. However, many of them took to social media to criticize the governor’s steps.

“No compassion whatsoever. Just depravity from an authoritarian governor seeking to score cheap political points with ultra MAGAs who think traumatizing vulnerable people and children is some kind of game,” said Rep. Carlos Smith, who is running to represent District 37.

Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents the Orlando area, called it “disgusting, un-American and shameful.”

“Imagine how much good we could do if they approached comprehensive immigration reform w/the same fervor they have for attacking immigrants,” Eskamani said.

Raquel Pacheco, a Democrat candidate for District 36 in Miami-Dade County, called the move “despicable,” but also did not provide responses on how Florida should handle the immigrants coming across the border. She argued that the money spent to move the illegal immigrants “should have been spent to actually help Floridians.”

“The night before the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, Ron DeSantis employs a political stunt to ship migrants from Florida to Massachusetts,” Pacheco said. “Ileana Garcia, the former head of Latinas for Trump, supports him wholeheartedly. They are despicable and must be defeated.”

Eskamani, Smith, and Cruz voted against a Florida law that prohibits state and local governments from having sanctuary policies in effect. It requires the entities to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The legislation has faced legal challenges.

The governor has also criticized President Joe Biden for sending flights of migrants at night to places like New York from Texas. NBC News reported in June that the Biden Administration planned to transport migrants awaiting immigration proceedings from the U.S. southern border to cities further inland.

“Biden would fly people in the middle of the night, dump them all across this country, there was no warning on any of this,” DeSantis said.

The White House press secretary called the flights orchestrated by the DeSantis Administration “reckless.”

“As we have said repeatedly, there is there’s a process in place, we have had a process in place, there’s a legal way of doing this and for managing migrants,” Karine Jean-Pierre said. “Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants, as political pawns. Is is shameful is reckless.”

In recent months, the DeSantis Administration has taken steps to limit the effects of illegal immigration through the border.

For example, the Florida Supreme Court granted the governor’s petition for a statewide grand jury to examine international human smuggling networks. The grand jury will investigate networks bringing people illegally from the southern border to Florida. It is set examine the networks’ impact on Florida and how they violated state law as well as investigate local governments that aid in the smuggling scheme. 

The flow of fentanyl from the southern border has also been a focal point of the administration. Parts of Florida have seen waves of fentanyl deaths within a short period of time. A new Florida law will go into effect this year to crack down on the distribution of fentanyl and increase penalties for those dealing in Florida.

“People coming illegally, a lot of them are trying to get here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in June. “This is something that absolutely affects us.”

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Florida’s Voice is a patriotic news network that you can trust to deliver the truth with no hidden agenda. Founder and Editor in Chief Brendon Leslie left his job in mainstream news to practice journalism as it should be, unbiased and unbossed.

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