Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was forced to go on Fox News’ “Hannity” Monday night to defend his decision to send 50 asylum seekers from Venezuela who were reportedly falsely enticed to board planes in Texas with promises of food, cash, housing, education and jobs assistance and a trip to Boston, while actually being sent to Martha’s Vineyard.
“They said they wanted this,” the Florida governor now under investigation by a Texas sheriff and possibly facing a federal investigation told Sean Hannity, “they said they were a sanctuary jurisdiction,” he claimed, Florida Politics reports.
Massachusetts is not a sanctuary state, and has only eight sanctuary cities. Martha’s Vineyard is not one of them. Sanctuary cities promise to not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, meaning they will not report immigrants who are in the country unlawfully – which these asylum seekers were not.
These 50 or so immigrants were seeking asylum, and are therefore in the country legally. They reportedly have followed procedures to apply for asylum, so were in no risk of being deported, and therefore did not need to go to a “sanctuary jurisdiction.”
“Millions of people since Biden’s been President illegally coming across the southern border,” DeSantis told Hannity. “Do they freak out about that? No. You had migrants die in the Rio Grande. You had 50 die in Texas in a trailer because they were being neglected. Was there a freak out about that?”
There was nationwide anger about the 53 – not 50 – people found dead in a locked tractor trailer last year. There were national headline stories for days. One month later two men were charged “on counts of transporting and conspiring to transport immigrants illegally resulting in death; and conspiring to transport immigrants illegally resulting in serious injury,” The Washington Post reported in July of last year.
“It’s only when fifty get put into Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis continued, speaking of human beings as objects, “which wasn’t saying they didn’t want this. They said they wanted this, they said they were a sanctuary jurisdiction.”
READ MORE: Biden Approval Soars as Trump’s Sinks
Florida Politics reports DeSantis described the migrants as “basically destitute” and “put in a situation where they could have succeeded” by being flown to Massachusetts.
“Not only did they not welcome them, they deported [sic] them the next day with the National Guard,” DeSantis falsely claimed. Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, called in the National Guard to assist the asylum seekers because Edgartown, a town of just over 5100 people, did not have the resources to properly care for their new guests.
One of the immigrants, CNN reported, had two gold teeth pulled out by a violent drug trafficking cartel when “he told them he could not make the extortion payment.”
About 30 chose voluntarily to be transported to a National Guard facility. Gov. Baker stressed the immigrants were given the choice to stay or go.
DeSantis also told Hannity all the immigrants had “signed consent forms to go,.” He claimed the flights were “clearly voluntary and all the other nonsense you’re hearing is just not true.”
Whether or not they signed consent forms is unproven. Also in question would be was there clear disclosure, did they know what they were signing?
Fred Wellman of the On Democracy podcast tweeted a few questions to Gov. DeSantis: “Who paid the ‘vendor’? Who paid for the videographer? Why didn’t you alert Massachusetts authorities before giving the story to Fox News? Why did you need to go to Texas if Florida is ‘overrun” with migrants?’
Hannity told DeSantis that the 50 immigrants “were fed, they were showered, they were offered haircuts and any other services they were needed, correct?”
The governor claimed they all received a “packet” with a “map of Massachusetts” and telephone numbers for service agencies.
3. Yesterday, https://t.co/Gl6evXRDcZ published a brochure that was provided to migrants to induce them to board a flight to Massachusetts.
The brochure suggested the migrants were eligible for a laundry list of benefits including “cash assistance,” and “housing”
THIS IS A LIE pic.twitter.com/0gGdax1I1p
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 20, 2022
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 20, 2022
But Popular Information’s Judd Legum, who published the brochure the immigrants were given to entice them onto the plane, says DeSantis officials held a “hastily scheduled press call with sympathetic media outlets” on Monday, attacking his reporting.
Legum also says the brochure contained information “from a Mass[achusetts] website, but it’s a website describing benefits for A DIFFERENT CLASS OF PEOPLE.”
“DeSantis and his team don’t understand the difference between refugees (who are eligible for resettlement benefits) & asylum applicants (who are not).”
DeSantis also claimed on “Hannity” that Martha’s Vineyard “could have absorbed these people without a problem.” That too is false. Martha’s Vineyard is a seasonal resort island that is home for a month or two to the wealthy, but off-season it’s a very different story.
“The median income on Martha’s Vineyard is $7K BELOW the state median,” Massachusetts state Rep. Dylan Fernandes said over the weekend in defense of the area. “The majority of year-round residents are diverse working class people who make these communities run.”
Watch Gov. DeSantis below or at this link.
DeSantis: The vendor doing this for Florida provided them with a packet with a map of Martha’s Vineyard and the numbers for different services on Martha’s Vineyard. It had numbers for the overall agencies in Massachusetts that handle things involving immigration and refugees pic.twitter.com/2YqzgvV0wR
— Acyn (@Acyn) September 20, 2022