Don't let the new location distract you. Florida's governor is just the latest weaponizing the US migrant crisis by sending new arrivals to Washington DC, New York, Chicago, and now Martha's Vineyard.
Don’t get too caught up in recent headlines around Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where two planes of some 50 migrants, many Venezuelan, showed up suddenly on Wednesday. Yes, this caused great confusion and a scrambling of community resources to provide basic necessities and aid to very confused arrivals who spoke little English. But it’s also nothing new.
Since April, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott has been pulling similar stunts, starting with busloads of migrants sent to Washington DC, and now including New York and Chicago as drop-off locations. Local mutual aid networks have often been on the front lines of providing care for the human beings shuttled about without adequate infrastructure in place. Reports suggest between 8- and 9,000 immigrants have been transported from Texas since April, with a price tag of $12.7 million paid to Wynne Transportation so far. Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey soon after followed suit, and has now sent around 1,500 recent arrivals to Washington.
Just yesterday, two busloads of human beings were dropped off directly at the United States Naval Observatory residence of Vice-President Kamala Harris. Or, as the Texas government website reported, to the home of “Border Czar Harris”. Along with Venezuela, the people used as props in these political stunts are also from Nicarauga, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Ghana, and Cuba.
The difference in the case of Martha’s Vineyard? Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis paid for these latest flights. Furthermore, Elizabeth Folcarelli told The Associated Press that arriving immigrants had pamphlets for her organization, the nonprofit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, and had been promised jobs and lodgings in Boston, the sanctuary city they had been given as an original destination.
But if we get distracted by the mere fact that one group showed up in Martha’s Vineyard, we’re missing the bigger picture. Three Republican governors are now using immigrants as political props, and doing so expressly against Democrat-led states, because the Texas bus routes have also changed to meet the demands of Republican-led states along the way. This weaponization of the US border crisis, a tactic that shows no signs of slowing, is as dehumanizing as it is indicative of a political schism that requires serious, countrywide redress.