In the fight for the US refugee policy, the Republicans have put on tough bandages. They criticize what they see as the liberal attitude of the Democrats. The governors of Florida and Texas are now transporting refugees from their states to democratic strongholds like New York and Massachusetts.
Planes full of unannounced migrants on the posh island of Martha’s Vineyard and buses with abandoned refugees in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ house in Washington – US Republicans are carrying out their threats. Without warning, they ship thousands of refugees from border areas of Republican states to democratic strongholds and simply dump people there on the streets.
In protest against US President Joe Biden’s refugee policy, Texas’ governor again dropped buses full of migrants on the streets of Washington on Thursday – this time in front of Vice President Harris’ apartment building. A few hours earlier, the unannounced landing of planes full of refugees on Martha’s Vineyard caused an uproar.
The island is popular with the rich and beautiful – but above all as a favorite place for democratic political celebrities. The Kennedys used to spend their summers on the picturesque island off Cape Cod in traditionally democratic Massachusetts. Today, the Clintons and Obamas vacation on the island near Boston, where the average house costs a million dollars. Last summer, Barack Obama celebrated his 60th birthday here at his $12 million beachfront mansion with Tom Hanks, Beyonce and Steven Spielberg.
The landing of two private planes full of refugees was all the more surprising for the 20,000 islanders. The machines arrived at the small island airport without warning on Wednesday afternoon. Among the 50 passengers were numerous children – most of them refugees from Venezuela. While authorities and aid workers “moved heaven and earth” to organize Covid tests, food, clothing and emergency beds, according to Democratic Senator Julian Cyr, there was initial confusion as to where the planes were coming from in the first place. It was said that they started in Texas.
But soon Florida Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged the flight action – as a protest against the liberal refugee policy of the democratic government. “States like Massachusetts, New York and California can better accommodate these individuals who are inviting them to our country with their support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said.
Just last month, the Republican governor attended a fundraising event on Martha’s Vineyard’s neighboring island of Nantucket. DeSantis wants to position himself for a possible presidential candidacy in 2024, it is said – in polls among Republican voters, the top politician is considered Donald Trump’s most dangerous rival. His Texas counterpart, Republican Greg Abbott, is also shipping thousands of refugees to Democratic cities. He transports migrants from Texas to New York, Washington and Chicago in buses and dumps them on the streets there.
For months, DeSantis has been warning that he would also bus illegal migrants into Delaware and drop them off in Joe Biden’s home state. The Democrat stronghold of Martha’s Vineyard was also on his list. His government provided a budget of twelve million dollars specifically for such transports.
One refugee, who only wanted to give his first name, Leonel, described the arrival on Martha’s Vineyard as positive – the people of the island as “the most generous I’ve ever seen.” The 45-year-old reported in the “New York Times” about his escape from Venezuela via Colombia and Panama to Mexico. From there he reached the USA via the Rio Grande. “I haven’t slept properly in three months. These are also my first new pants since. And my first shoes.”
He feels welcome on Martha’s Vineyard, he said. The island’s only homeless shelter has only ten beds and one bathroom. Emergency shelters have now been set up in St. Andrew’s Church. “For our small community, 50 homeless people is a staggering number,” said Church leader Barbara Rush. She further explained in the Times: At the end of the summer season there is hardly any work left. “In winter there are no jobs here and there are basically no affordable rents anyway.” Community groups, churches and restaurant owners are stepping in to help the refugees. “We are strong and we can do this.”
Meanwhile, Democrats condemned DeSantis’ recent action. Manny Diaz, head of the Florida Democratic Party, spoke of “a new low” for the governor. “History will look unmercifully on politicians who treat people like cargo,” tweeted Rep. Bill Keating, whose constituency includes Martha’s Vineyard. And Senator Cyr called it “despicable when politicians try to politically profit from the difficult living conditions of these families and stage malicious public relations activities.”