Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent two planes full of migrants on September 14 to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a $12 million program to move migrants out of the Sunshine State.
DeSantis' 2022-23 Freedom First Budget states that the program, which is being run through the Florida Department of Transportation, aims to "facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens out of Florida."
However, the 50 or so migrants, many of whom reportedly originated in Venezuela, were put on flights out of San Antonio, Texas. Still, Florida's Governor confirmed that the flights were paid for through Florida's fund. According to NPR, those aboard the flight said they were told the destination was Boston.
The move is being touted by DeSantis and other Republicans as a way to share the "burden" of immigration that border communities are seeing by sending migrants to blue states that purport to support the Biden-Harris administration's federal immigration policies.
"States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration," a spokesperson for DeSantis told NPR in a statement on Wednesday.
DeSantis' press secretary, Christina Pushaw, has been battling major backlash for her boss's decision to move these migrants to an island with no relief and without warning given to local officials, and many are calling it a political stunt to further the governor's anti-immigration agenda.
Pushaw's response to the uproar has been to make fun of locals at Martha's Vineyard.
Local news stations headed there to chat with residents about the new visitors. In one interview, a resident said there's not enough housing for the immigrants.
Pushaw clapped back that most of the homes are million-dollar summer mansions that are vacant half of the year, and "they can be used to house thousands of illegal migrants."
\u201cMartha\u2019s Vineyard claims to be a \u201csanctuary\u201d jurisdiction that welcomes illegal aliens. Most of those multi million dollar mansions are summer homes that are vacant most of the year. They can be used to house thousands of illegal migrants.\n\nTime to walk the walk, Biden voters.\u201d— Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1663271007
Pushaw fired off another post retweeting a meme of a cartoon character crying in a pool in front of a mansion, captioned: "We don't have the space!"
Her response was a smiley face.
\u201c\ud83d\ude04\u201d— Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1663278204
A columnist online asked if there was a flag that represented the island he could put in his profile bio. She took another opportunity to poke fun at the situation and posted a photo of someone wearing a shirt with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's face on it that reads, "Notorious R.B.G."
"Yes, this migrant is wearing a shirt with the Martha's Vineyard flag on it," she wrote. "I'm so glad to see them adjusting well to their new home."
This comes right before Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15. As far as what comes next, people are rallying to help the Vineyard with relief efforts.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.