Fallout from DeSantis’ scheme to send immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) Spending state money For months to send immigrants to Democratic cities in an effort to score political points against the Biden administration’s border policies. But after dozens of Migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard last week As part of Florida’s spoofing programme, the controversy over the scheme came to a head.

Now, the policy is being challenged in federal court and is the subject of a criminal investigation. These legal issues could eventually halt the Republican Party’s efforts to continue moving immigrants into Democratic strongholds, even though Republicans have already succeeded in drawing national attention to the border and manipulating it as a midterm issue.

On Tuesday, three of 48 Venezuelan immigrants were sent from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard lawsuit Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Florida officials on behalf of their group. They accuse DeSantis of carrying out a “premeditated, fraudulent, and unlawful scheme … for the sole purpose of furthering their personal, financial, and political interests.”

Meanwhile, Texas authorities are investigating whether the immigrants were victims of a crime. Sheriff Javier Salazar said in Monday press conference.

DeSantis is not indicating that it will stop. it was there Tuesday reports That he was planning to charter more flights to send immigrants to Delaware, near President Joe Biden’s vacation home. DeSantis refused to confirm his plans; White House and Delaware officials prepared for the possible arrival of immigrants, although they never came.

The scheme is the brainchild of Abbott and one owned by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey copiedDeSantis has been in the headlines lately. This is by design. He’s currently running a competitive re-election race with his Democratic opponent, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and has used the stunt in a bid to revive border security as a major issue in the midterm elections. On Monday, go out a New campaign announcement A mother whose son died in a car accident with an unauthorized immigrant is shown in a critique of Biden’s border policies.

Voters do not rank immigration as their top priority nationally; ranks in the back Inflation, jobs, the economy, and abortion in Florida. But while immigration is not a major issue for Florida residents in general, it is the No. 3 issue for Republicans in the state, according to a recent report. AARP Survey / FabrizioWard / Impact Research. This refers to DeSantis, who is also reported to be ready for 2024 presidential raceis looking to bolster his hard-line credentials on immigration and replicate former President Donald Trump’s success in revitalizing the Republican Party’s donor base by making tough immigration and border security. case identification who carried it.

To do so, he uprooted people who now say they were tricked into flying into a remote part of Massachusetts. This may lead to some legal problems.

Possible legal consequences

The immigrants’ lawsuit alleges that they were essentially deceived into agreeing to travel to Martha’s Vineyard on two chartered flights by Florida officials. The cost of flights Over $600,000 in taxpayer dollars.

They argue that DeSantis and other Florida officials planned to target immigrants on the streets outside an immigrant shelter in San Antonio, Texas, offering McDonald’s gift certificates, free hotel accommodations, and promising employment, housing, educational opportunities, and other assistance if they boarded flights. to other countries. Salazar said on Monday that a Venezuelan immigrant received a “flying dog fee” for his recruitment.

They claimed they were told they were going to Boston or Washington, D.C., but were instead taken to Martha’s Vineyard, where they found no such resources, not even food or water, even the locals. rush to help from unexpected arrivals. They were later transferred to military base shelter in Cape Cod.

Immigrants accuse DeSantis and other officials of unreasonably seizing, violating their Fourth Amendment rights, and getting them to board a plane across state lines for fraudulent reasons, in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment right to individual liberty. They have asked the judge to prevent DeSantis and other officials from “inducing immigrants to travel across state borders by fraud and misrepresentation” and are also seeking damages, though it is not clear who might be required to pay those damages.

Both Abbott and DeSantis claimed that the immigrants were never misled. Instead, DeSantis tried to blame the Biden administration, which he said in a press conference on Tuesday had treated immigrants “Ugly. “

“I think it opens people’s eyes to the solution, which is to have secure borders,” he told reporters. “The biggest ploy was Biden coming in as president and reversing Trump’s policies.” (In particular, Biden left one of the specific border policies of the Trump era in place: Address Policy 42.)

The immigrant lawsuit does not include any charges of criminal wrongdoing. Texas investigators have not named any suspects in connection with their investigations, but this investigation could lead to criminal charges. Massachusetts lawmakers, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Latino rights groups also called for Federal investigation In the scheme to investigate it as possible human trafficking or kidnapping. So far, no such investigation has been announced.

If immigrants are found victims of a crime, this may make it easier for them to remain in the United States. Salazar said that all immigrants who were sent to Martha’s Vineyard have been released from federal custody. Prior to the trip, they had all been in the US legally while their asylum applications were being processed. Because of this, they can instead become eligible to apply for a “U visa,” a humanitarian visa available to victims of crime. This visa will allow them to stay in the United States for four years on a work permit, apply to become permanent residents after three years, and also allow their family members to apply for visas.

How is the Biden administration responding?

The Biden administration has largely dodged questions about how it intends to respond to the DeSantis scheme, viewing it as a problem that Republicans concocted for political purposes. “DeSantis’ only goal, as he really made clear, is to create chaos and use immigrants fleeing communism as political pawns,” White House press secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.

It is about creating a political theater for him. “It’s not about finding a solution,” she added.

But this immediate controversy belies a deeper problem, which is that red states openly defy federal immigration policy and take matters into their own hands. This has not only political, but practical consequences as well. Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mallorcas He said In August, “unilateral” efforts by Abbott and others to suppress border crossings could “cause chaos” because they could interfere with law enforcement goals and create a situation in which the United States has multiple and incompatible immigration policies.

As a rule, Democrats don’t like to talk about immigration, which has long been consideredThe Third Railroad of America’s Politics‘, particularly in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections in which they are cautiously optimistic About limiting Republican gains. But putting their heads in the sand on a divisive topic may not be the best defense given the current reality on the border.

The number of times officials encountered immigrants at the US-Mexico border this fiscal year has exceeded 2 million As of August, historic high. These numbers are driven by record levels of immigration from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – representing a shift from the predominantly Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadorian migration flows typical of the pre-pandemic period.

Those numbers have been inflated because many immigrants have been caught trying to cross the border multiple times as a result of the Trump-era pandemic policy known as Title 42, which removed any potentially negative legal consequences of doing so.

This policy allows the federal government to prevent non-citizens from entering the United States “in the interest of public health.” Trump argued that it helped limit the spread of Covid-19. Biden chose to keep Title 42 in place for now and used it to get fired More than a million immigrants This fiscal year, although recently The epidemic was declared over and that many medical professionals say the policy does nothing to protect public health.

Part of the Biden administration’s reliance on Trump-era politics stems from the fact that it allows the federal government to expel immigrants quickly and easily; It is a way of avoiding the enormous practical and human challenge that migration poses.

Biden confirms that he offered a solution. Jean-Pierre noted Tuesday that Biden has introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the truth is that Democrats don’t have the numbers they need to pass it in the Senate. This means that any action Biden wants to take must be through the executive branch — and in a way that doesn’t cause a political backlash for Democrats and won’t be constrained by the courts, which have repeatedly done so. He stood in the way of his efforts to roll back the policies of the Trump era and setting new priorities for the implementation of immigration.

It’s a daunting task, and it seems the management hasn’t been able to comprehend it. That, along with voters’ anxiety about other issues, has left a void as GOP governors use immigrants to galvanize their base.

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