DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard Stunt

This is just playing crass political games with human beings.

Via Fox News: Ron DeSantis sends two planes of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard*

“Yes, Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” the governor’s communications director, Taryn Fenske, told Fox News Digital.

“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 through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” she said.

[…]

Fox News Digital reported in April that Florida’s budget since approved by the state legislature included $12 million for the Florida Department of Transportation to remove illegal immigrants from the state and relocate them.

More details on this story, including accounts of the deceptive way these people were lured to be flown to Massachusetts can be found via NPR’s Morning Edition: Fla. Gov. DeSantis sent migrant flights to Massachusetts, his office says. Weirdly, the migrants were not in Florida, but were in a shelter in San Antonio, TX:

The plane arrived out of the blue on a sunny afternoon. The passengers, men, women and children, almost all from Venezuela, arrived at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. They had boarded the plane earlier that day in San Antonio. Officials were not informed ahead of their arrival. Once on the ground in Massachusetts, local authorities and nonprofits scrambled to feed and house them. Lisa Del Castro, who runs the island’s homeless shelter, said resources were scarce at first.

[…]

Three migrants each separately described to NPR how they were lured onto the plane with promises of help getting work. Each of the three were told they were being flown to Boston and that, once they were there, they could more quickly get work because they were told it is a sanctuary city. Andres Duarte, a 30-year-old Venezuelan, said he had recently crossed the border into Texas and eventually went to a shelter in San Antonio. A woman who he and other migrants identified only as Perla approached them outside the shelter. They say she arranged for some of them to stay at a hotel, offered them food and then got them on a plane.

By the way, since Venezuela is one of the countries that the American right uses as a great bogeyman, it seems odd to pick on potential refugees from a country that is very much experiencing an economic disaster (but logic and reason are hardly the core of the actions being described herein).

Let me underscore that the main incentive for immigrants coming to the US is that they are seeking better lives for themselves and their families. And while we can debate the notion of sanctuary cities, the odds that such are primary drivers of migrant flows is rather absurd. Indeed, even mentioning them is just evidence of how all of this is red meat politics. The jobs migrants can get are the main incentive, and many of those jobs are in Texas and other Republican-controlled states (if that is the game that DeSantis wants to play). But, of course, the over-arching incentives are difficult to remove and the failure at setting a national policy to address the complexities of the issue is both long-standing and bipartisan (although so as to note that I am not just both-sidesing this, at least the Democrats aren’t trying to scapegoat and demonize immigrants).

Regardless, while there might some legitimate debate to be had concerning the burden of unauthorized immigration into the US on border states, the solution to such inequities should be addressed by the federal government via the federal legislature, not via stunts at the state level. This isn’t even Florida sending persons in Florida to other states, it is Florida sending persons in Texas to other states. It is absurd as any kind of policy or as an act of responsible governance.

Beyond any of that, and central to why this story should be highlighted: we are talking about human beings here. It is flatly grotesque and inhumane to use humans, especially extremely vulnerable ones, as pawns in a political game.

This is all made the worse by the fact that not that long ago, DeSantis was stoking fears about “secret flights” when the Biden administration was moving underaged immigrants around the country to alleviate pressure on border states. Here’s a Fox News story along those lines from November of last year: Florida gov says Biden admin has landed dozens of secret flights carrying illegal migrants into the state. These stories made it sound like the Biden administration was just dumping migrants around the country in some nefarious secret plan. Yet, as NPR reported in June: ‘Ghost flights’ are the latest GOP effort to weaponize immigration ahead of midterms

“There’s no warning,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference last week. “It’s just in the middle of the night. And then you’ll wake up and someone will say, ‘they brought a bunch of unaccompanied minors.'”

But federal officials insist that these flights happened exactly the same way during previous administrations, including under former President Trump. 

“This is completely consistent with the law and our responsibilities,” said Jorge Silva, a deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at U.S. Health and Human Services, in a statement. “Our legal responsibility is to care for unaccompanied children while they are on our watch, and that includes connecting them to vetted sponsors.”

Federal officials say that flights carrying migrant children happen at all hours, and that they don’t release information about the children on board to protect their privacy. Even the contractor operating the charter flights hasn’t changed since the Trump administration, they note. 

What has changed is that the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border reached an all-time high last year, topping 100,000 for the first time. And immigrant advocates say the amount of fear-mongering about them is rising too, in a way that’s “really just divorced from reality and from facts,” Nagda said.

Look, I fully understand that all of this is DeSantis just stirring the base, so trying to talk about actual public policy solutions is almost pointless, but this whole thing is beyond galling. Dumping human beings in various liberal-leaning states to basically own the libs for TV purposes is grotesque. Again, these are people. That there are poor, likely have brown skin, and don’t speak English doesn’t make it okay to treat them like objects.

When I see things like this, it is hard not to think of the following, especially since a lot of the base DeSantis seeks to please are likely self-identified Christians.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

One need not adhere to the Christian faith to appreciate these sentiments.**

If GOP politicians don’t like to be referred to as “semi-fascist” they shouldn’t treat a group of people like sub-human pawns nor should they engage in pure power moves just to score political points. And, likewise, those in the public who relish these kinds of actions need to engage in self-reflection (note that my expectations are not high on this count.***

This really is indefensible behavior. Again: human beings and vulnerable ones at that.

Can we have differing, legitimate policy positions on how to deal with immigration and refugees? Of course we can, but no one should be allowed to pretend like tricking vulnerable people into boarding a plane to be taken two thousand miles to a place unprepared to help them is a legitimate policy position.

It is cruelty and a clear case where the cruelty is very much the point.

Update: FWIW, I had not seen Jonathan V. Last’s Bulwark post until after I had written and posted the above. But he had very similar thoughts about both the cruelty of it all and the clear betrayal of core Christian principles evidenced in DeSantis’ behavior.


*I see that James Joyner also noted this story in Thursday’s Tabs. I started writing this before his post, but was unable to come back to finish until much later–also why I am only seeing the discussion in that thread now.

**Sentiments that I have to mischievously note sound pretty damn woke to me.

***Dare I note another woke notion: that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, as some long-haired social justice warrior once said.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    I have been wanting to write about this but I have been honestly too frustrated by the underlying performative evil of this to be able to intelligently respond (not to mention the waste of 12 million dollars that could have gone to the state’s social safety net).

    I’m equally frustrated at the notion that a not insignificant number of the Republican base will celebrate this because cruelty is the point.

    I will note (since I’m not going to write on this) that the JFK archive pointed out that this rhymes with a similar move during the civil rights era where Black families were sent to the north by racist Southern State Governments:
    https://www.jfklibrary.org/asset-viewer/archives/BMPP/005/BMPP-005-007?image_identifier=BMPP-005-007-p0068

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  2. @mattbernius: “performative evil,” indeed. Well put.

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  3. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    This is just playing crass political games with human beings.

    But it is, as you note, consistent with the values of the current Republiqan Party and with the moral values and Christian-ish philosophy/theology of rwnj evangelicals. The best the rest of us can do is work around it.

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  4. mattbernius says:

    Sadly and infuriatingly, JD Vance also wants to get in on this action (and decides to go extra hard on the racism in the process):

    “Let’s say Roe v. Wade is overruled,” he said. “Ohio bans abortion in 2022 − let’s say 2024. Then every day, George Soros sends a 747 to Columbus to load up disproportionately Black women to get them to go have abortions in California. Of course, the left will celebrate this as a victory for diversity…If that happens, do you need some federal response to prevent it from happening because it’s really creepy? I’m pretty sympathetic to that, actually. Hopefully we get to a point where Ohio bans abortion and California and the Soroses of the world respect it.”

    Source: https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/politics/2022/09/15/ohio-senate-race-tim-ryan-blasts-lindsey-graham-abortion-ban/69496242007/

    I mean, this thought experiment isn’t specifically about proactive state actions, but it feels like there is something in the collective Republican party water at the moment.

    BTW, (and off-topic) I can’t figure out where Vance seems to net out on State’s rights. Because the idea that all states have to adjust their internal policies to the most restrictive State’s policies on a topic doesn’t feel like it.

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  5. Grommit Gunn says:

    On top of everything else, picking an isolated island with a small year round population and very limited social services is utterly grotesque.

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  6. CSK says:

    @Grommit Gunn:

    Apparently the refugees will be transported off-island.

    The hospital on MV is good. And there are shelters.

    As I said in the other thread, the year-round population of MV is 17,000. It’s 200,000 in the summer.

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  7. Jen says:

    What Republicans consider “leadership” is appalling and morally bankrupt.

    What a disgusting human being Desantis is.

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  8. Andy says:

    I think the complaints about using human beings for a political stunts, and how inhumane that supposedly is, is mainly about optics and partisanship than reality.

    To begin with, the people who get this free transportation end up, in most cases, in objectively better circumstances than the people who don’t. On the whole, the people who are the supposed victims of this “inhumane” political stunt are better off than those who aren’t, who end up stuck on the streets in a border community or having to pay for their own transportation to wherever they want to go.

    So the whole argument about this being inhumane is contradicted by the material facts and conditions of these migrants themselves. Unless you think these people would be better off if they’d remained in San Antoinio than among the warm and caring community at Martha’s Vineyard.

    The fact is that most migrants have a destination in mind when they get into the US and they do not want to sit in overcrowded border communities, yet they don’t have the resources for safe transportation. Free transportation, even as a cynical partisan political stunt, is naturally going to be attractive and beneficial to them. Which is why humanitarian groups in border areas encourage migrants to consider the free “political stunt” option.

    To me, it seems obvious that this policy should be nationalized by the federal government, but we can’t seem to have that discussion because most seem more interested in complaining about the bad intentions of GoP governors than challenging policy.

    Secondly, the focus on this political stunt as uniquely bad while the daily inhumanity at the border is largely ignored or hand-waved away (“there might some legitimate debate to be had concerning the burden of unauthorized immigration into the US on border states”) is a curious disconnect. The border patrol dumps tens of thousands of people on the streets of border communities to fend for themselves, yet you and others here would have us believe that the real cruelty and inhumanity, the more important topic, is a political stunt that ultimately benefits the migrants who participate.

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  9. Andy says:

    I think I would be less snarky about this if people would offer some alternative besides the status quo beyond hand-waving. I get that many don’t like the political stunt -and I don’t like it either – well then, what is the alternative? I’ve offered mine.

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  10. DK says:

    @Andy:

    To begin with, the people who get this free transportation end up, in most cases, in objectively better circumstances than the people who don’t…So the whole argument about this being inhumane is contradicted by the material facts and conditions of these migrants themselves.

    Hogwash “contradicted by the material fact” Martha’s Vineyard is isolated, has limited population, and has limited services.

    There’s nothing “objective” about this partisan defense of more Republican foolishness masquerading as disappoinate analysis. I mean really, do apologists for clowns like DeFascist and Abbott really think we’re that stupid?

    DeFascist could have sent them to wealthy, well-resourced California (which is too busy doing the work to make a nonstop show of whining, complaining, and passing the buck re: its own Mexican border problems). But that would have lacked the performative cruelty. Hence: Martha’s Vineyard.

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  11. DK says:

    @Andy:

    I get that many don’t like the political stunt -and I don’t like it either – well then, what is the alternative?

    Maybe instead of cheap talk about a useless border wall and dumb stunts, and other bad faith performative nonsense, those who pretend to be horrified by illegal immigration could support comprehensive immigration reform?

    Or actually they could actually bother to fix the immigration system when in power, instead of cutting taxes for billionaires, traumatizing migrant kids with family separation, falsely smearing migrants as rapists and murderers, and deporting undocumented vets. The immigration scaremongerers controlled the House from 2011-2021, the Senate from 2015-2021, the White House from 2017-2021, with unified control from 2017-2019.

    What happened to the McConnell Senate border and immigration bill? The Boehner-Ryan House border and immigration bill? The Trump border and immigration bill?

    Oh.

    But of course, Post-McCain conservatives actually matching their empty immigration talk with legit solutions would take away the opportunities to be mean and to gin up GQP votes with a wedge issue. So I guess we’ll have to wait for illegal immigration to become a Democratic Party priority, for anything serious to get done.

    In other words, good luck.

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  12. Andy says:

    @DK:

    Martha’s Vineyard, the horror! And surely they will be stuck there forever in such horrible conditions, unlike that wonderful shelter in San Antonio.

    As I’ve argued many times now, the federal government should be doing this and not states and certainly not as a political stunt. These migrants should not be forced to fend for themselves in border communities, and the rest of the country should also have a responsibility to house them until the system adjudicates their claims. It’s not fair to border communities and states, much less the migrants themselves. If you want to argue for the status quo, then feel free to die on that hill.

    I do push back at the idea that moving migrants is somehow uniquely cruel or inhumane simply because it’s done for partisan reasons. DeSantis didn’t send them to some concentration camp, he sent them to one of the wealthiest communities in the entire country, and they are well cared for by that community. The notion that this is some kind of horror show and that it would be better to keep these people on the streets in border towns or overcrowded shelters is sophistry.

    My view is that most migrants should get the opportunity to go somewhere else subsidized and facilitated by the federal government. What’s your solution?

    Similarly, Trump and Republicans greatly reduced the SALT benefit which was a naked partisan move. But once you look past the motivations and consider the policy merits, it’s good policy! The government should not subsidize rich people.

    To understand where I’m coming from here, you have to be able to look past the motivations of DeSantis, Abbot, and others and consider the policy on its merits. On that score, I think it’s a good policy on the merits, which is why I argue that it should be nationalized.

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  13. Andy says:

    @DK:

    Maybe instead of cheap talk about a useless border wall and dumb stunts, and other bad faith performative nonsense, those who pretend to be horrified by illegal immigration could support comprehensive immigration reform?

    We agree on that!

    You have a laundry list of grievances against the GoP on that score, and – I agree with all of them.

    Edited because I missed this:

    So I guess we’ll have to wait for illegal immigration to become a Democratic Party priority, for anything serious to get done.

    Yes, I think you are right here as well.

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  14. DK says:

    @Andy: Sophistry is using a reduction ad absurdum false choice between Auschwitz and Martha’s Vineyard to pretend it isn’t horrible to fly migrants with no warning to an isolated bedroom community. If claiming is good policy to ship migrants to resort towns at summer’s end is the hill you want to die on, feel free.

    The solution is for Abbot and DeFascist to grow up and do their jobs, like the governors of California and New Mexico, who are managing the same untenable and unfair situation like mature adults. If they want to advocate for better federal policy we are waiting. But funny how I didn’t see them up pushing lawmakers on Capitol Hill to act when McConnell was Senate Majority Leader and when Trump was president. Wonder why that is?

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  15. BugManDan says:

    The only parts of the Bible quote that the Rs will read:

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”

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  16. steve says:

    Alternative solution? How about you at least notify Martha’s Vineyard ahead of time so they can prepare. Maybe use some of the federal funding Florida receives to help pay for the preparation.

    ” those who pretend to be horrified by illegal immigration could support comprehensive immigration reform?

    We agree on that!”

    What reform will the Senate be able to agree upon and also get past the House if either is controlled by the GOP?

    Steve

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  17. Scott says:

    unlike that wonderful shelter in San Antonio.

    Here is the info about the Migrant Resource Center in San Antonio. I offer it for info purposes.

    https://www.sanantonio.gov/humanservices/ImmigrationServices

    https://www.sanantonio.gov/portals/0/files/humanservices/ImmigrationServices/MRC-FAQ-July-2022.pdf

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  18. wr says:

    @Andy: “I get that many don’t like the political stunt -and I don’t like it either ”

    Well, that certainly explains your dozens of messages gushing about how great it is!

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  19. Scott says:

    BTW, did DeSantis have to go to San Antonio to import some immigrants because Florida has such a small immigrant problem?

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  20. dazedandconfused says:

    @DK:

    It’s a fair bet every immigrant on the flight volunteered to take it, get away from the border with it’s self-appointed anti-immigrant militias to a place where they can get away from hostile state government, get jobs, and start lives. There is no reason to assume anyone forced them on this flight.

    DeSantis could’ve framed it realistically but chose instead to cast it in a way that panders to his base, which is counterproductive and nauseating.

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  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I have found it an interesting fact that the louder one proclaims their Christian beliefs, the less Christian they are.

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  22. Scott F. says:

    @Andy:

    The border patrol dumps tens of thousands of people on the streets of border communities to fend for themselves, yet you and others here would have us believe that the real cruelty and inhumanity, the more important topic, is a political stunt that ultimately benefits the migrants who participate.

    Your argument would be a little less shallow if you could offer, I don’t know, some evidence that this transport is ultimately beneficial to these immigrants. So, you know that these families wanted to end up in New England after adjudication, rather than with relatives in Oklahoma or in northern Texas where they know of a community to join? And you know this how? Did you ask them? Did DeSantis ask them?

    The inhumanity in this stunt comes from the fact that these human beings were used with no regard for what they might say they need or want.

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  23. steve says:

    For those who didnt read it, the San Antonio center receives funding from FEMA. It has facilities set up to receive 600 people a day. Marthas Vineyard doesnt have the facilities or the funding. Can they scramble and take care of things? Yes. Is a few days of chaos a good price so DeSantis can have a good photo op? I dont think so but YMMV.

    Steve

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  24. Beth says:

    @Andy:

    I do push back at the idea that moving migrants is somehow uniquely cruel or inhumane simply because it’s done for partisan reasons. DeSantis didn’t send them to some concentration camp, he sent them to one of the wealthiest communities in the entire country, and they are well cared for by that community. The notion that this is some kind of horror show and that it would be better to keep these people on the streets in border towns or overcrowded shelters is sophistry.

    You, and the rest of the country are being prepared for genocide. The Trans community is already screaming about this because this is being done to us. The Republicans know exactly what they are doing when they put a disfavored group on a plane and force them somewhere else. You’ll note, they aren’t loading up illegal Canadians (of which there are tons in FL).

    This is just one more quiet step on the road to fascism and genocide.

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  25. Mimai says:

    Utilitarians arguing with Deontologists.
    Or rather, people channeling utilitarian arguments quarreling with people channeling deontological arguments.
    Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.

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  26. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    That has invariably been my experience.

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  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Grommit Gunn: I’m afraid that the grotesque part is a feature rather than a bug. If it was merely offensive, there might not be enough psychic reward to Republiqans to trigger action.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: No, they’ve been appalling and morally bankrupt for a long time. This is 2 or 3 exits beyond that.

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: If I read you correctly, your suggestion is

    To me, it seems obvious that this policy should be nationalized by the federal government, but we can’t seem to have that discussion because most seem more interested in complaining about the bad intentions of GoP governors than challenging policy. [emphasis added]

    It’s a good idea. Alas, the government lack the independent power to act on it and must rely on Congress to help. I would wave my magic wand to make that happen, but it’s in the shop. Get yours out and go to work.

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  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @BugManDan: WA!!! I’d not noticed that before. Fantastic shot from behind your own blue line! SCORE!

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  31. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Andy:
    The FLORIDA DOT paid to fly migrants from TEXAS to a small isolated bedroom community in MASSACHUSETTS under false pretenses.

    How gracious of Florida. /s/

    As you asserted in your post most of these migrants already have a notion of where they would like to settle and find work -so- and here is my proposal:
    With federal support, provide bus transportation (tickets) to the city/county of their choice.

    BTW, my immigrant ancestors, who were arriving at Ellis Island and being processed by the hundreds of thousand EACH day, were on their own to get to the city/county of their choice.

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  32. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    Dude. Do you know who started this? It wasn’t Abbott in Texas. You’re old enough to know, but you either don’t know (bad) or don’t care (worse).

    This is the shit done by White Citizen’s Councils in the South in the 1960s.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/this-isnt-the-first-time-white-racists-have-sent-migrants-north-on-buses-though-using-planes-is-new

    And just this morning, two buses full of migrants were dropped near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened, either.

    In the early 1960s, another group of white supremacists, relying on the same racism-and-spite blueprint, and peddling the same lies about housing and opportunity, bussed vulnerable people—Black Americans living in the Jim Crow-era South—across the Mason-Dixon line to get back at Northern liberals involved in the civil rights movement. The Reverse Freedom Rides were a racist prank in the same mean-spirited, pitiless vein we’re seeing from MAGA immigration hardliners. And while Abbott has boasted that his “unprecedented” bussing plan is doing “what no state has done in American history to secure our border,” it’s hard to believe he hasn’t cribbed every note from those racist originators.

    This past April, Abbott snarked that Texas would rent shuttle buses to take “illegal immigrants who have been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington, D.C….where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border.”

    Just stop, man. It’s embarrassing and vile that you’re defending this behavior by DeSantis.

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  33. @Andy:

    I think I would be less snarky about this if people would offer some alternative besides the status quo beyond hand-waving. I get that many don’t like the political stunt -and I don’t like it either – well then, what is the alternative? I’ve offered mine.

    The post isn’t about offering a policy alternative, it is about a objection to what I find to be a morally reprehensible action on DeSantis part. I don’t have to have a policy alternative (although I have certainly written about such things in the past) to take a moral position.

    I think you are underplaying the degree to which this was a wholly exploitative act.

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  34. @Mimai:

    Utilitarians arguing with Deontologists.

    I mean, kinda. But not really.

    Andy isn’t making a utilitarian argument for the action. He is downplaying the action and asking people to stop with the deontology.

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  35. @Andy:

    I do push back at the idea that moving migrants is somehow uniquely cruel or inhumane simply because it’s done for partisan reasons.

    It’s cruel for a number of reason.

    First, it is subterfuge. It is making vulnerable people think they are getting helped, but instead they are just being relocated.

    Second, they are being moved from a situation set up to help them to a location not prepared to do so.

    Third, if these people were awaiting refugee hearings, how are they going to get back to Texas for their hearings? It seems like what this move does is place them almost certainly into illegal status when they are do not up for hearings.

    The idea it is no big deal to take humans thousands of miles to a place unprepared to receive them is inherently cruel. And what are the odds these people had any understanding of what was happening to them?

    This isn’t some government program to move migrants to some location established to receive them. It is dumping people in a location associated with libs so as to own them.

    Do you not see this?

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  36. Mimai says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Hmmm… Seems to me that Andy is arguing that the action ought be expanded (and federalized) because it would maximize utility. He seems to be “downplaying” the importance of motives underlying the action. I don’t see him taking a strong stand against deontological arguments per se. Rather, he is ignoring them and advancing his own arguments. (Andy, please correct me if I misunderstand.)

    I’m struggling to understand how we see this differently.

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  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s more cruel in intention than in effect. They weren’t facing a choice between the Four Seasons and Motel 6.

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  38. de stijl says:

    Abbott and DeSantis are treating illegal immigrants as chattel property. To do with as I see fit.

    Why not Mandingo fights to the death to see who gets his family a bed in a shelter? Django Unchained comes to mind.

    Utterly nauseated!

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  39. @Mimai: Let me restate: Andy seems to me to be to want to dismiss any deontological argument and shift to a policy discussion (which may or may not be a utilitarian one). I don’t see this discussion, such as it is, as deontologists v. utilitarians. I see it as people who find the actions morally problematic and someone who is hand-waving away those issues as partisan overreactions.

    It isn’t like people such as myself who find this all reprehensible can’t also have policy positions.

    And FWIW, I noted that the problem should be federalized in the OP.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    @BugManDan:

    The only parts of the Bible quote that the Rs will read:

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”

    If they do, one should point out, consistent with the full quote, that the Lord’s left is the audiences right.

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  41. PT says:

    The idea it is no big deal to take humans thousands of miles to a place unprepared to receive them is inherently cruel. And what are the odds these people had any understanding of what was happening to them?

    This isn’t some government program to move migrants to some location established to receive them. It is dumping people in a location associated with libs so as to own them.

    Well put. It is frankly difficult for me to understand why people don’t get exactly this.

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  42. Mimai says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Ah, I see, thanks for clarifying that (to be sure, you were probably clear enough initially, but given that we don’t share a brain…)

    Commenters seemed to be focusing on different things. People vs. Policy. And while this doesn’t necessitate deontology vs. utilitarianism (indeed, one could make any number of moral arguments for either side of the “vs.”), the way it played out rang that way to my ear.

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  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @EddieInCA: Ok ok… I get to play Andy now:

    “I fail to see the problem here. We need a Federal non-solution so States can deal with the problem of the kneegro responsibility. Surely Northern States will now get a taste of the calamity the kneegros desire for integration will cause foe society writ large. Why, it just makes good sense for states, any state with regional issues to export any and all of those challenges to a state without them to expand a sense of solidarity. Why shouldn’t California export a little real estate inflation to Mississippi? Its only right that Mississippians appreciate what California has to deal with.

    But back to the kneegros, we all know they are surely better off in the more prosperous South–away from the iron boot of Jim Crow where they can make new lives for themselves. They were done a favor…”

    Ok how’d I do….

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  44. Ken_L says:

    Trump Republicans have been hugging themselves in glee all day at the best bit of lib-owning evah! “The Obamas should be happy to welcome the illegals to their little sanctuary city” chortled Gateway Pundit. “Democrats freak out” gloated Breitbart. “Left wingers melt down” reported The Federalist with glee. Western Journal happily agreed “Democrats furious”. Twitchy practically had an orgasm with multiple posts about “Democrats losing their freakin’ minds” over illegal immigrants in “Obama’s back yard”.

    In the phantom Republican presidential primary, DeSantis peeled off another few thousand Trump supporters to himself. Mission accomplished. Never mind that the “Democratic freak out” existed purely in the Trump Cult’s imagination.

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  45. EddieInCA says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

    “Just do what I say. It’s for your own good.”

    You nailed it.

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  46. de stijl says:

    The Republican base loves shitty humans doing performatively shitty things to libs. For the lulz.

    We are living in a recreation of a 2014 subreddit of right-wing victimization paranoia fantasy thread. Abbot and DeSantis are trolling for the lulz.

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    It’s not fair to border communities and states

    If people in border states don’t want to deal with the issues and responsibilities that come from being in a border state, maybe they should fucking move to Wyoming. Seriously, every state has its own unique challenges, and if they don’t like their states’ challenges, then get out of the way.

    Or, they can actually try to solve the problems in a reasonable manner, asking the federal government for the help they need, asking their party to support needed reforms and programs.

    But moving people around haphazardly with no plans? No, that’s just fucking cruel.

    And the fact that you defend it says bad things about you.

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  48. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Late to this thread, but can someone explain to me how this is not kidnapping?

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  49. gregory scott garner says:

    If they aren’t supposed to be here, anyway…which they most assuredly are NOT…..what difference does it make? If liberals want them here anyway…which they clearly DO…why not get them some proximity? The truly odd part of this is just how dumb it reveals many of these liberals to be…particularly these absurd mayors…who foolishly blurted out PRECISELY what they were thinking…A gifted politician, like a Bill Clinton, would have a photo op of him cradling an immigrant baby, or playing softball with immigrant children…Instead, these idiots just come right out and declare ‘What’s the deal with all these immigrants? Why aren’t they in Texas, where they belong?’ This move worked out strategically FAR better than anyone might have anticipated….but luckily for the liberals, our citizenry are so dumb, and so apathetic, that the true absurdity of this won’t register for most.

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  50. Skookum says:

    Great piece and ensuing discussion.

    I see a grain of truth in Andy’s argument that we need a federal strategy to provide social services to migrants who are seeking legal immigration status, much like European countries did after the war in Syria. I means, it seem fair to me that since we initiated the Near East exodus that caused so much unrest in Europe by invading Iraq, we should be willing to pony up and care for South and Central American refugees. Alas, Andy’s argument desensitizes of the treatment of human beings who were in essence treated like cattle shipped from poor range to Kentucky bluegrass.

    This leads to the grain of truth in Beth’s argument that ANY organized displacement of a group of people because of their identity to get rid of them (as opposed to facilitating their well-being and just treatment) is a hallmark of the beginning of genocide. I doubt that the GOP envisions gas chambers for South American and Central American refugees (as of yet), but I do believe they view a whole range of humans as undesirables rather than God’s children who should be treated with the Golden Rule.

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  51. Matt Bernius says:

    Andy, I’m replying to you here versus on the other post. And honestly the reply is going to be a bit indirect because of time.

    BUT before that, can everyone take a breath in terms of reading into people’s motives and beliefs based on what they right. There is space to disagree without calling someone a monster (or implying that) based on what they wrote.

    OK,

    So my issue isn’t the moving of immigrants within the country. Not at all. That’s necessary and that happens all the time (and for good reasons).

    My issue with this case is the “dumping” of people. Rather than intaking them into a program that’s structured to recieve them.

    Yesterday Andy pointed to this article and I think it demonstrates a significant difference between what happened here and elsewhere:
    https://news.yahoo.com/free-bus-rides-migrants-washington-091708867.html

    The tl;dr. version is that it’s profiling a non-profit group that works within the confines for Gov Abbott’s busing plan. The key difference is that at least in the previous case we have a group that is facilitating connecting people to resources in the location they arrive in–not to mention providing clear information about their options.

    That was clearly not the case here (both in terms of getting consent and having agencies ready to ingest).

    We can argue about the political performative nature of the decision about where to drop off people (i.e. NYC, Chicago, and DC), but there is at least infrastructure to handle the people there. That wasn’t the case with what DeSantis did here.

    One thing I will note also is that an advantage that NYC, Chicago, and DC have is that they all have resources for assisting immigrants (documented and undocumented). That was something not available in Martha’s Vineyard (which gets back to the performative cruelty point).

    I also really appreciate how stressed border state’s social services departments are (better than a lot of folks because of my line of work). And so I totally support trying to distribute that load. But this particular case was a not a good faith attempt to do that.

    Beyond that I 100% agree that our current federal policy on immigration is broken. And, based on the last 20 years, I think the evidence demonstrates how the core issue here is that our current Legislative Branch, and in particular the Senate and the filibuster, makes fixing that possibility an impossibility. This is one of the many reasons why I support significantly reforming or simply eliminating the filibuster as I think it perversely disincentivized compromise on issues like this.

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  52. Matt Bernius says:

    Another note, it’s worth noting that at least some of these people were technically *legal* because they are seeking asylum. While there can be some debate about the legitimacy of those claims, that is a different situation then crossing the boarder for the purposes of getting work or other reasons.

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  53. @gregory scott garner:

    what difference does it make?

    Because how we treat other human beings is a direct measurement of our own humanity.

    Full stop.

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  54. @Skookum:

    I see a grain of truth in Andy’s argument that we need a federal strategy to provide social services to migrants who are seeking legal immigration status,

    Indeed. In fact, not only do I not see anyone disagreeing with that, I noted as much in passing in the OP.

    I find Andy’s position to be missing the main issue and then asking us to have a wholly different conversation (and then pretending like no one wants to talk about policy, which isn’t true).

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  55. @gregory scott garner:

    If they aren’t supposed to be here, anyway…which they most assuredly are NOT

    Two other thoughts:

    1. If they are asylum-seekers, they have the legal right to be here until their status is decided, so this is not as cut-and-dry as you suggest.
    2. If you are saying (and, in fact, you are) that their legal status means they can be treated cruelly, then you are saying that their legal status defined their worth, and you are engaging in dehumanization. Is that what you want to do?

    Are you saying we shouldn’t do to others as we would like done to ourselves?

    Are you saying that the poor and displaced deserve cruelty?

    Make your case.

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  56. Andy says:

    All,

    I got swamped with work today and don’t have time to respond to all the comments, so I’m highlighting Matt’s comment and then will make a few general observations for the commenters here in general.

    Specifically to Matt’s point here:

    The tl;dr. version is that it’s profiling a non-profit group that works within the confines for Gov Abbott’s busing plan. The key difference is that at least in the previous case we have a group that is facilitating connecting people to resources in the location they arrive in–not to mention providing clear information about their options.

    That was clearly not the case here (both in terms of getting consent and having agencies ready to ingest).

    The one point that I will concede is that DeSantis’ stunt with Martha’s Vineyard is substantially different from what has been going on with bussing for a long time now. I agree that it’s much more problematic than the bussing programs and that one instance is largely indefensible even though I do not agree that there is any serious harm, much less that it’s uniquely cruel and inhumane.

    I would just highlight that most of my critics here who characterize DeSantis’ stunt as uniquely terrible seem to have no problem with DHS dumping people on the streets in border communities to fend for themselves. The selective outrage is quite striking, as is the lack of any criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the situation or the lack of interest in the topic of how to deal with the present crisis on the border generally. It’s ignored by a certain cohort of people, who only comment to express outrage when Republicans do something they don’t like. That’s probably an unreasonable and uncharitable characterization on my part, but that’s the perception and I can think of few alternative explanations.

    I may have missed a comment here, but as far as I can tell, I’m also the only one who has offered any kind of specific solution beyond the usual handwaving about hypothetical federal action and “comprehensive immigration reform” which is a nice, but largely meaningless, mantra that is so shallow that everyone can agree to in it principle.

    And low and behold, I am not alone for it seems like the administration is debating the very thing that I’ve been advocating here:

    The White House has recently hosted a series of high-level meetings on immigration, where DHS officials have presented options, including flying migrants to the country’s northern border with Canada to alleviate overcrowding on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the discussions.

    Some DHS officials have openly expressed frustration at those meetings with the White House’s reluctance to take a page from the book of Republican governors and begin transporting migrants to cities within the U.S., according to internal communications obtained by NBC News.

    Oh, and one thing I found late yesterday is that the City of El Paso, Texas, has also been chartering busses to transport migrants to NYC and other northern cities since late August and is continuing to do so while asking for reimbursement from the federal government.

    The takes and comments that the 10k+ people who’ve been bussed so far are victims of human trafficking and that the practice should be made illegal (by what mechanism, I wonder), are gonna have to “evolve” their views as this practice becomes normalized by necessity. Especially considering few critics have any alternative COA to offer.

    Oh, I will comment on this, particularly since it seems many here agree with the sentiment:

    @Gustopher:

    If people in border states don’t want to deal with the issues and responsibilities that come from being in a border state, maybe they should fucking move to Wyoming. Seriously, every state has its own unique challenges, and if they don’t like their states’ challenges, then get out of the way.

    Let’s hope that when Mt. Ranier blows, or an earthquake creates a tsunami that devastates the Emerald City, the rest of America is a lot more charitable to your plight than you are to pretty much everyone you don’t like. Because you should fucking move to Wyoming too and shouldn’t complain if your state’s “unique challenge” come bite you in the ass.

    The “fuck them” attitude you frequently emote here about various groups in various contexts, including this one, certainly “says bad things about you.”

    Also, if you think border communities have not been asking for help from the federal government, then you’ve not been paying attention.

    Happy Friday and have a good weekend.

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  57. @Andy:

    I would just highlight that most of my critics here who characterize DeSantis’ stunt as uniquely terrible seem to have no problem with DHS dumping people on the streets in border communities to fend for themselves.

    First, I personally would need to know specifically what you are referring to to comment,

    Second, so are you saying that a person cannot be outraged about X if and only if they also take the time to be outraged about A, B, and C also?

    The “fuck them” attitude you frequently emote here about various groups in various contexts, including this one, certainly “says bad things about you.”

    I am fairly certainly he is being snarky here since many Reps have made similar statements about, say, Democrats who don’t like Republican policies in red states.

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  58. Modulo Myself says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There are just more encounters with undocumented immigrants and it’s causing hysteria and panic. Look at these numbers where you can see border encounters skyrocket in 2019 slow down for Covid and then really take off. The jump is insane.

    Likewise, I googled ‘dropping off illegals border patrol’ and got this link about migrants being dropped at a bus station so they can get a ride to places where they will stay before their court date. Obviously, this is not the same thing as lying to a bunch of migrants and sending as a stunt/troll to Martha Vineyard. But in the minds of the hysterics there’s some sort of payback here against the left, the liberals for having to encounter more people trying to cross the border. Do they care about the humans they see? No, they just get angry when they have to see things they don’t like. Especially since Biden is not to blame, and they know it. When that truck was found with the dead migrants, that passed under the radar because right now supposedly we have open borders or something, and if people are dying trying to cross how can you have open borders?

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  59. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:
    I think we are fast approaching the talking past each other point of the discussion. I will note that the next paragraph in the article you cited feels rather important:

    Under a plan proposed by DHS, migrants would be sent to such cities as Los Angeles, where shelters would get an advance warning to have time to prepare for the influx. The plan is designed to be less chaotic than what is happening now in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Officials in those places have been caught by surprise as Republican governors in Texas, Arizona and Florida have sent migrants north to make a political statement.

    Which gets to the point you are raising about:

    I would just highlight that most of my critics here who characterize DeSantis’ stunt as uniquely terrible seem to have no problem with DHS dumping people on the streets in border communities to fend for themselves.

    First, I’d love a bit more details on this claim as that doesn’t match my understanding of what happens… or rather it flattens out the situation a lot. From what I know from frontline workers in those states, there is some ingestion infrastructure in the form of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that have the infrastructure to assist with triage (that’s beyond the folks who are heading to specific areas because of local family members and other informal networks to assist them).

    Granted this structure is not (a) adequate or (b) optimal. But one exists, which is different than the Desantis case. It’s also important to note that, in some cases, those CBO structures were also harmed by actions taken by the DHS under Trump–which were essentially designed to maximize the pain of people coming across the border in hopes of greatly reducing the influx of immigrants.

    I will definitely concede that when some of these issues come up there is definitely selective outrage or more accurately “short attention span outrage”–in so much as people’s attention to these issues goes away quickly and then just assume it got fixed (if they even think about it at all).

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  60. mattbernius says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Likewise, I googled ‘dropping off illegals border patrol’ and got this link about migrants being dropped at a bus station so they can get a ride to places where they will stay before their court date.

    Oh, if that is what Andy is talking about I can provide a bit more context too.

    Again, definitely not an optimal program, but there are some additional details based on my understand of it.

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  61. Console says:

    The problem with border policy has always been that borders are political shorthand that ignores local realities.

    White people in Iowa care more about border security than “border communities” because border communities have to deal with decades and sometimes centuries of integration. There’s a reason DeSantis didn’t try to mess with any Venezuelans in Florida.

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  62. mattbernius says:

    Another article and data point on the Texas business program

    A bus contractor hired by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to transport migrants to New York signed an agreement not talk to NY officials, complicating volunteer efforts to help: report

    https://www.businessinsider.com/bus-contractor-texas-migrants-new-york-agreement-not-talk-officials-2022-9

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