OPINION: DeSantis, Abbott pull political stunt using immigrants as props

On Sept. 14, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida sent two planes filled with Venezuelan immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, an island just off the coast of Massachusetts. However, this was not what the immigrants had been told at all. 

When boarding the flight, the immigrants were explicitly told they would be heading for Boston or Washington, D.C., and were promised work, housing, and food. As the immigrants landed in Martha’s Vineyard, absolutely none of those resources were waiting for them, and no one on the island was notified prior to their arrival.

At first glance, it may seem as though there was a miscommunication among pilots, or a rerouting of sorts, but the truth began to unravel soon enough. This dehumanizing act of hostility was planned and executed by none other than Gov. DeSantis himself, which he proudly took ownership of days later. DeSantis and the rest of his team of officials were aware of their actions and intentions from the very beginning. They first tried to gain the trust of the 50 immigrants by offering them $10 McDonalds gift certificates, knowing these individuals were economically vulnerable and experiencing food insecurity. Then, once DeSantis’ team arranged the flights and lied to them about where they would be landing, the immigrants boarded the planes. Although some attempted to deboard, none were allowed to get off until they finally arrived at Martha’s Vineyard, a destination they were completely unaware of.

As of Sept. 20, DeSantis is being sued by Alianza Americas, an organization dedicated to uplifting migrant communities and implementing equality for them in the United States. This immigration stunt was defined best by Alianza Americas in their official legal complaint against DeSantis as “a premeditated, fraudulent and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.” DeSantis took advantage of these immigrants who left their homes out of fear of their controlling government and unsafe living conditions – people who came to the U.S. because it claims to be “the land of opportunity.” But as it turns out, that phrase only applies to legal citizens rather than asylum seekers hoping to start a new life free of harm within its borders.

The “immigrant problem” that Republicans such as Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and DeSantis care so much about has only ever been a problem because they made it one. They claim to understand the sanctity of life, but would rather ship off “outsiders” to other states because they don’t want to deal with them – as if they were nothing but objects and not actual human lives. That being said, it should come as no surprise that this same scheme has been pulled by Gov. Abbott, who has also bussed immigrants to various places, such as Chicago and even near Vice President Kamala Harris’ home. Both governors allotted $12 million for an immigrant relocation program, which is just fancy verbiage for transporting immigrants to Democratically blue states and leaving them there to be someone else’s “problem” – a way to stick it to Democrats with the sentiment of “if you care so much about immigrants, then you should be able to house them in your state, not ours.” Stunts like these have been done in spite of the Biden administration’s open border policies. It’s apparent that government officials such as DeSantis and Abbott have a problem with allowing asylum seekers into our country and despise the notion that people would ask them for help.

It’s appalling to know these stunts have occurred, and even more so knowing there are people within the states of Florida and Texas who applaud this type of behavior. DeSantis is a prime example of how power and corrupt morale can be used for someone’s political gain. It may not be possible to convince these politicians of their wrongdoings, so it is up to us to make sure we vote in upcoming elections, otherwise we will continue to see people in power abuse their privileges and harm others.