Today’s Reverse Freedom Rides

A shameful stunt reminiscent of an even darker era.

A few weeks back, I denounced Texas and Arizona bussing migrants to DC and New York City as “A cruel and insidious ‘solution’ to the border problem.” Thursday, I pointed to Ron DeSantis sending two planes of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard as “continuing saga of ‘owning the libs’ in the cruelest possible way” and Steven Taylor observed, “It is flatly grotesque and inhumane to use humans, especially extremely vulnerable ones, as pawns in a political game.”

Retired Naval War College professor Tom Nichols, now a columnist for The Atlantic, calls the practice “A Sadistic Immigration Stunt” that Americans should reject regardless of their politics.

The Florida governor’s cartoonish assumption, apparently, was that liberal Bay Staters are just as racist as the Republican MAGA-base voters he’s trying to woo, and that they would prove it by reacting with outrage when a bunch of Latin Americans showed up on their doorstep. (He even sent a videographer, in the hopes of capturing the Vineyarders getting the vapors.) This bizarre miscalculation probably won’t help DeSantis much. As the journalist Josh Marshall said this morning, in politics, “weird can sometimes be worse than wrong.” In any case, the show was a fizzle: The locals provided the migrants with food and shelter, and sent students from an AP Spanish class at the local high school as translators.

He feels this way despite being “an immigration hawk” who has opposed amnesty for illegal aliens going back to Ronald Reagan’s day and considers the attempt to brand those who illegally cross our borders as “undocumented immigrants” to be “Orwellian.”

Because intentions matter. A policy implemented by sadists is not a policy. It is cheap political gratification masquerading as policy, and it will always do more harm than good.

Trump’s ghastly child-separation debacle is a case study in hateful policy. The Trump administration, when it came into office in 2017, locked on to a truth about illegal immigration: It is difficult, for many reasons, to send families with babies and children back to their home countries. The children are blameless, even if the traffickers who brought them and their parents to America are not.

Previous administrations held and then deported many of these people. But as my colleague Caitlin Dickerson showed in great detail, the Trump administration was populated by a menagerie of immoral and cowardly appointees who decided to stop illegal immigration by separating children from parents, intentionally inflicting pain on parents and kids as a deterrent in itself. This policy was not only brutal but executed with maximum incompetence, with no real plan for ever reuniting these families.

And here we are again. Who came up with the idea of flying immigrants around the country? Was this motivated by some deep thinking in Tallahassee about our immigration problems? Or was it because some Fox host might have bloviated about owning the libs by sending immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard?

As it turns out, Fox’s chief bloviator, Tucker Carlson, suggested this very idea in July. DeSantis, one of the thirstiest politicians in America, clearly spotted an opportunity, so the taxpayers of Florida ended up paying to send people—some of whom seem to be asylum-seekers we should be welcoming—from Texas to Massachusetts. According to an immigration lawyer assisting with the migrants’ cases, someone (I assume people working with DeSantis or Texas Governor Greg Abbott) appears to have lied to the group of some 50 people, coaxing them to board the planes by saying they would get a “surprise,” and that jobs and homes awaited them—a particularly nasty touch in an already vomitous business.

I am against illegal immigration. But I am against the intentional tormenting of other human beings—especially children—even more. If my choice is the current mess or an immigration system run by ruthless opportunists such as Ron DeSantis—a man dancing on a chain while Tucker Carlson cranks the racist street organ—it’s not even close: I’ll stick with what we have. And I will never support anything, in any way, that runs the risk of handing power to people like DeSantis or his MAGA base.

At WaPo, Gillian Brockell and Jodie Tillman remind me of a bit of history that I’d forgotten and in doing so add additional context to the current practice:

Eliza Davis was bewildered the day she arrived in a wealthy tourist town on Cape Cod. An agricultural worker, she had been promised work and housing if she took a free trip to another state. Days later, disembarking with her eight children, she had little idea where she was, that a president had a family compound down the road, or that she was a “pawn,” as locals told the New York Times, in a political stunt.

Davis, 36, was not among the migrants who arrived Wednesday in Martha’s Vineyard — a resort island off Cape Cod where former president Barack Obama has a home — courtesy of a flight arranged by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). She was a Black woman from Alabama, bused to and abandoned in Hyannis, Mass., in 1962, not far from the holiday home of President John F. Kennedy.

Today’s migrants in Martha’s Vineyard are now being transported to the same Cape Cod military base that housed the “Reverse Freedom Riders” decades ago.

It was all part of the so-called Reverse Freedom Rides, arranged by White segregationists in 1962 in retaliation for the Freedom Rides of the previous summer, when Black and White volunteers rode buses through the South supporting desegregation.

The plot was organized by white supremacist Citizens’ Councils in Arkansas, who bought radio ads and made fliers advertising the “opportunity” to African Americans.

They focused on recruiting men with criminal records and single mothers with a lot of children, cynically presuming White liberals would welcome them the least.

Lela Mae Williams, an Arkansas woman who was also dropped off in Hyannis with her nine youngest children, was dressed in her finest clothes, because she had been told Kennedy himself was going to greet them when they arrived, according to 2020 NPR report. She had packed little else, because anything she needed was going to be provided, she was told.

Along with the new arrivals, local Hyannis officials received anonymous letters, according to the Times, saying things like, “Abe Lincoln sowed the seeds and now the North can reap the harvest,” and “We have put up with millions of n—— for 100 years, so why should you squawk?”

A proud tradition, indeed.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Turley assures us that “No, Transporting Undocumented Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard is Not ‘Literally Human Trafficking.’” So, at least there’s that.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    I just want to point out that the migrants in question are all asylum seekers who are currently in the country legally while their applications are being reviewed, so Tom Nichols’s entire article should be seen as a attempt to reframe the current incident onto grounds more favorable to the alt-right by replacing refugee/assylum policy with the taint of unapproved migration. I’m not sure it’s intentional on Nichols’s part or if he’s just a useful idiot, but given his long history of similar bad-faith reframings, he deserves scorn even if it was driven by incompetence rather than malice.

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  2. Bokonon says:

    You say this is similar to “an even darker era.” I don’t know about that – I’d say that there are forces in America that are determined to make the present AS DARK or even MUCH DARKER than the 1960’s. As if the only problem last time was that there weren’t ENOUGH guns or ENOUGH extreme measures and ENOUGH CONFLICT, and maybe what you need this time is the addition of prison camps for liberals and a bunch of one-way helicopter rides.

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  3. LPNM says:

    Yet another example of when parody is indistinguishable from real life for the American right

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As always, the cruelty is the point.

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  5. DK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Tom Nichols’s entire article should be seen as a attempt to reframe the current incident onto grounds more favorable to the alt-right by replacing refugee/assylum policy with the taint of unapproved migration.

    As someone who has been similarly cavalier with the language in question, a sloppiness (you call it “incompetence”) that is not above criticism as you say, I’d wager Nichols is more likely just conflating issues. Not necessarily trying to give cover to the xenophobes who demand we all pretend the present and future US economy does not need migrant labor and children born to immigrants.

    Regarding the people used for DeFascist’s stunt, Nichols explicitly refers to them as “immigrants,” “migrants,” and “asylum-seekers.” He references illegal immigration multiple times to make his overall point, yes, but not to describe these particular persons. It seems Nichols deliberately avoided calling DeFascist’s victims “illegal immigrants.”

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  6. alanstorm says:

    ANOTHER “target-rich environment!”

    A few weeks back, I denounced Texas and Arizona bussing migrants to DC and New York City as “A cruel and insidious ‘solution’ to the border problem.”

    Sorry, you’re an idiot. Ignorant liberals (BIRM) have been claiming that they love illegal immigrants, have declared themselves “sanctuary cities” – as long as someone else is hosting them. DeSantis and Abbott are simply offering these brave Social Justice Warriors the chance to live out their dreams.

    “It is flatly grotesque and inhumane to use humans, especially extremely vulnerable ones, as pawns in a political game.”

    Oh, like Brandon flying “migrants” around the country? THAT was somehow different? Please.

    All this is doing is putting illegal immigrants where they are supposedly loved. You have no arguments here; don’t even try.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    It’s gone now, but yesterday’s headline on the FOX website was something like, “Wealthy liberals on Martha’s Vineyard won’t let migrants sleep in their houses”. The accompanying story was fairly straightforward, except for saying they were transported from FL to MV and implying that moving them to a military base on Cape cod was somehow nefarious. It did note they had been fed, given clothing, and even given cell phones and $50 prepaid VISA cards, while maintaining no one had offered their summer homes. All the comments I read picked up the headline and were all about those hypocritical liberals. This story is disgusting, but only if you hear it straight. If FOX viewers see headlines about the migrants being welcomed in MV they’ll write them off as fake news.

    I’ve seen reports that false addresses were put on some of the migrants’ paper work and mandatory, lose legal status if you don’t show, appointments made near the fake addresses, thousands of miles from MV. Please gawd let there be criminal charges over this whole exercise.

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    @LPNM:

    Yet another example of when parody is indistinguishable from real life for the American right

    . For another example see, @alanstorm:.

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  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    @DK:

    If he recognizes they’re permitted to be in the country, why bring “illegal immigration” up at all? There’s a deliberate strategy to conflate authorized immigration with unauthorized immigration as part of a motte-and-bailey argument by white nationalists, so the best case here is that Nichols is UNWITTINGLY helping them spread that association.

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  10. Mikey says:

    @alanstorm: If you had anything besides strawmen and bullshit false equivalencies, there might be something worth responding to, but at this point you’ve just put up the commentary equivalent of a wet fart.

    There is one thing about your comment that is instructive: it shows how little progress has been made since 1962.

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  11. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The video you referenced indicated that asylum court dates and locations were changed for these asylum seekers. Is that not interfering with a judicial procedure? Or is that legal also.

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  12. @alanstorm: So, to be clear, you support the usage of vulnerable human beings as political props because you don’t think they are worthy of being treated with basic human dignity.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The fascist troll makes his obligatory appearance and is just as ignorant as ever but there is an increase in spittle.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @DK: It’s a fair point that these people are technically asylum seekers but it’s also true that none of them are likely eligible for asylum under international or US law, since they lack a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.” Regardless, I think Tom is just trying to establish his bona fides with his fellow conservatives: “I’m as big a hawk on border security as it comes and even I think this is unconscionable.”

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Being ignorant of immigration procedures, I really don’t know. But it would not surprise me if there weren’t legal consequences for that fraudulent deed.

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  16. @James Joyner:

    I think Tom is just trying to establish his bona fides with his fellow conservatives: “I’m as big a hawk on border security as it comes and even I think this is unconscionable.”

    While I disagree with some of Tom’s positions on the topic as expressed in the piece, I agree that this was exactly what he is doing–trying to show that he has a strong view on the subject but nonetheless finds DeSantis’s behavior to be reprehensible.

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  17. MarkedMan says:

    A policy implemented by sadists is not a policy

    Unfortunately this is just wrong. The cruelty is the point of Jim Crow governance. There has to be a bottom rung, the people that everyone can sh*t on, and it’s important that government officials demonstrate that laws and police and courts aren’t available to the disfavored groups, except as a tool to keep them in their place.

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yep. While I agree with him fundamentally that we should enforce our immigration laws and even that it’s perfectly reasonable to call those here in violation of them “illegal immigrants” or “illegal aliens,” I also think our immigration laws are out of sync with 1) our actual desire to have cheap labor available and 2) our ability to enforce them given 1). And I’m really opposed to having laws on the books we can’t or won’t enforce, given that it leads to selective enforcement and, often, cruelty. At the end of the day, then, we should make it a lot easier to get a Green Card and for seasonal workers to come and go.

    Additionally, at a more fundamental level, I think anyone willing to leave everything behind and walk from Venezuela to the United States with their family should be be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed as the sort of person who’s likely to be an asset to the country.

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  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s a fair point that these people are technically asylum seekers but it’s also true that none of them are likely eligible for asylum under international or US law, since they lack a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.”

    If the reports that most of them were from Venezuela are true, I wouldn’t be so sure about that, since Temporary Protected Status would apply to them.

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  20. stevecanyon says:

    Jonathan Turley says transporting migrants ‘not literally human trafficking’? Anytime your argument includes ‘not literally’ or ‘technically’ you are losing.

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  21. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Nicaragua is also on the TPS list.

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  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Additionally, at a more fundamental level, I think anyone willing to leave everything behind and walk from Venezuela to the United States with their family should be be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed as the sort of person who’s likely to be an asset to the country.

    They have certainly shown more grit, determination, and courage than most people can even imagine.

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  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @stevecanyon:

    Also, what are Turley’s thoughts on Kidnapping by Inveigelment?

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  24. Modulo Myself says:

    Being a hawk on border security is a way of obscuring what you are a hawk about. These are people walking across the border to work. They’re not coming here to invade or to do home invasions. They are coming here to do jobs. You can be a hawk and think it’s bad policy, but we’ve allowed militarization to take over everything on the right, without pushback, and we’ve allowed these very inane fears about a bunch of people being given bus tickets and plans to go somewhere else being a license to do these stunts, so we can show the truth about what’s happening.

    What’s happening is that life is difficult and much harder south of the border, and people are doing what they can to survive. It’s not hard to imagine this. The fact is that racists and xenophobes go on about this as if they care about the situation, rather than the fact somewhere there’s an unauthorized brown person.

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  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Regardless, I think Tom is just trying to establish his bona fides with his fellow conservatives: “I’m as big a hawk on border security as it comes and even I think this is unconscionable.”

    If it helps, I will happily concede that Nichols enjoys a good reputation, standing, and authenticity with the right.

    I’m just not clear on why that should make his views on immigration more credible.

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  26. Jax says:

    Somebody mentioned yesterday that asylum seekers can’t work for 150 days after their arrival, or until they get a green card or something along those lines. Why is that? If they’ve already been provisionally processed, so to speak, and given a court date, why do they have to wait so long? How are they supposed to survive? Wouldn’t that be an excellent way to tell who SHOULD be given permission to stay, those who got to work right away?

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  27. Slugger says:

    I am personally from an immigrant family. We are an economic plus. Even illegals are an economic plus https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/contributions-of-undocumented-immigrants-by-country/
    When I walk around my town, the guys fixing roofs are hablan español. and what economic data I can find is generally positive.
    I would be interested in what happened to the reverse Freedom Riders. What are their descendants doing now?

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  28. Matt Bernius says:

    @stevecanyon:

    Jonathan Turley says transporting migrants ‘not literally human trafficking’? Anytime your argument includes ‘not literally’ or ‘technically’ you are losing.

    Which is in keeping with Turley’s larger MO as the “Official Fox News Heterodox Liberal Patron Defender of Lost Causes When Alan D Isn’t Available(TM).”

    BTW James, I appreciate the shade of including Turley’s take in the main article.

    I’m still waiting for folks to also pick up on noted liberal Heterodox Zaid Jilani’s “um actshully…” response to the Reverse Freedom Riders thing, which was throwing up “well today the North is more segregated than the South.” Granted that is 100% true and has very little to do with the underlying historical arguement other than to say “hey, is that a squirrel over there?!”

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  29. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jax:

    Somebody mentioned yesterday that asylum seekers can’t work for 150 days after their arrival, or until they get a green card or something along those lines. Why is that? If they’ve already been provisionally processed, so to speak, and given a court date, why do they have to wait so long? How are they supposed to survive? Wouldn’t that be an excellent way to tell who SHOULD be given permission to stay, those who got to work right away?

    This is the case and it’s very much an example of what is wrong with our overall immigration system (and its nativist aspects). In theory, this is to discourage people from “faking” refugee status–i.e. lying about being a refugee in order to come to the US to work.

    To be clear that does happen. However, by most accounts the majority of people who are seeking asylum status most likely believe they qualify. Believe is the key word there as most lay people who read English have difficulty understanding the requirements. And the interpretation of the requirements is something that shifts from Administration to Administration.

    Information about the ban can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-and-asylum/asylum

    Also, note that after 150 days (and sometimes longer) they can petition for permission to work in the US, however, there is no guarantee of getting that approval from an Administrative Law Judge.

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  30. Jax says:

    @Matt Bernius: How do they survive during that 150 days? They have to eat, live somewhere, keep themselves clothed….that’s a really long time to have to sit around and do nothing, and have no way to legally support themselves or their families, if they came with children.

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  31. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:

    Additionally, at a more fundamental level, I think anyone willing to leave everything behind and walk from Venezuela to the United States with their family should be be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed as the sort of person who’s likely to be an asset to the country.

    Amen to that. Which makes DeSantis speaking of these humans yesterday as though they are household pests all the more vile.

    “So we’ve been interdicted people on a onesie, twosie basis,” DeSantis said. “And we said, OK, so we’ve had people in Texas for months, trying to figure out how are these people getting into Florida? What’s the movement? And the reality is 40% of them say they want to go to Florida. And so that’s a lot. I mean, we talk about all those people, but the problem is that they’re coming in through with like three people in a car and they go through, it’s hard for us to know, because they’re just coming into the state like any other car, so there’s not a big movement.”

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  32. Andy says:

    Ok, I’ve had a good night’s sleep and think I can approach this from a more rational angle. Let me try to lay out why I think you, Steven, Nichols, and most of the commenters here are making moral and logical errors in your arguments.

    In the last thread, I think the most insightful comment was from Mimai:

    Utilitarians arguing with Deontologists.

    I think there is a lot of truth to that. I come at this issue from more of a utilitarian standpoint. The major questions for me are about the effects of actions and policy, which I believe are almost always more important than intentions, real or imagined. How are real people impacted? At the end of the day, effects matter much more than intentions because effects take place in the real world, not in the mind.

    And I think the mistake you, Steven, Nichols, and others are making is focusing on intentions to the exclusion of effects. And I think if you look at the effects of the bussing program (which Democratically-controlled cities like El Paso are also doing and which the federal government is now considering), the effects are net positive.

    Let’s consider the fact that El Paso, controlled by Democrats, is also paying to bus migrants to “sanctuary” cities on the city’s own dime, although they are asking the federal government for reimbursement. Regardless of any difference in intentions, the effects of this policy are the same as the programs paid for by GoP-controlled state governments. It’s difficult for me to be outraged at one and not the other when the effects are the same.

    There have been over 10k migrants bussed to various cities, and there is very little evidence that they are materially worse off, that they are angry at being “tricked,” or that they have any intention or desire to go back to overcrowded border communities. I’ve already posted one news story showing that humanitarian agencies are guiding migrants to these bus options because they are a net positive for them despite the political intentions of GoP governors. So these allegations of inhumanity and abuse aren’t based on actual on-the-ground facts, they are derived and projected exclusively from assessments of intentions. That’s a problem.

    Let’s consider the effects of doing what you want and others want – shutting down governors bussing migrants to other states and even making it illegal for them to do it. What are the effects of that? Well, we know border communities will be more crowded, and more migrants will be living under bridges in destitution in these border towns, more migrants will have to beg to get bus money to go where they want, and there will more strain on already overwhelmed social services, etc. From a moral and emotional point of view, I find the effects of what you want to do to be highly immoral regardless of your intentions. Maybe if you and Steven and others had some alternative besides effectively forcing migrants to stay put in overcrowded conditions, we could look at and compare policies. But that’s clearly not a discussion that either of you wishes to have, and in the last thread, Steven even commented that:

    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).

    The “main issue” in my view, is how to alleviate the massive influx at the border, which is causing a crisis. The main issue is not the intentions of GoP governors and their bad intentions. Steven then claims it isn’t true that no one wants to talk about policy. But very few have offered any policy alternatives besides the usual “comprehensive immigration reform” platitudes, and most people have simply ignored my own policy proposal. And the fact of the matter is that all the recent posts here at OTB about immigration have exclusively been about this narrow criticism of GoP governors – that suggests you think that talking about that is much more important than talking about policy, given it’s the only thing you’re posting about. Turning around and criticizing me for wanting to expand the convo to actual policy and bigger-picture issues is solid evidence that you don’t want to discuss policy.

    So, again, my policy proposal, which I’ve been entirely consistent on, is for the federal government to do what these governors are doing, but widely as official policy and not as a political stunt. Because moving migrants out of overcrowded border towns, so they aren’t sleeping under bridges is a good and moral policy.

    I’ve yet to see anyone here significantly push back against that proposal. I have yet to see anyone address the logical consequences of the goal of shutting down these political stunts or why that is more just and moral than what I propose, which is expanding them. I’ve yet to see anyone address the question I’ve repeatedly asked – which is why bussing migrants is so much worse than DHS dumping them on the streets of overcrowded communities to fend for themselves.

    This is the logical problem of focusing on intentions to the exclusion of effects. I find it highly morally problematic for people to be outraged and morally self-righteous at bussing migrants but remain silent when the federal government is literally dumping people on the streets. Lots of people here have accused me of being a “bad person” for not being sufficiently outraged by a political stunt whose effects are very far from a “reverse freedom ride” (as if confining migrants to the destitution of border towns is the real freedom) – well, I’d turn that around and suggest that many of you are “bad people” for not being outraged about anything else that’s going on, a lot of which is materially worse for migrants than bussing them to northern cities.

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  33. Modulo Myself says:

    I will just add that this has been–most likely–a terrible failure as a political stunt. Whatever ‘message’ these people think has been sent is lost. The majority of Americans are not the Republican type of nativist or racist. They aren’t the audience for content about towns having migrants dumped on them for a couple of hours, and they’re appalled.

    To put this into centrist terms, this is like Defund the Police, but the crime being protested isn’t a system which leads to callous and indefensible murders, but a supposed ‘crime’ of people coming to this country. There’s no there there, and watching these Republicans believe that everyone is like their base and just viscerally roiling inside at the thought of that border down there–that beautiful invisible line–being walked across by hundreds every day is sad.

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  34. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Andy:

    Your entire post is basically like arguing that rape is morally okay because other people are having consensual sex. The difference between coordinated programs to spread out migrants with coordination between the source and the destination is nothing like tricking people into getting abandoned in random places without warning.

    And you know this, but you’re playing the normal Republican game of playing dumb with your bad-faith “but what’s the difference?” bilge.

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  35. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    I find it highly morally problematic for people to be outraged and morally self-righteous at bussing migrants but remain silent when the federal government is literally dumping people on the streets.

    The federal government is not dumping people on random streets. They are doing their best to move people to where they need to go while they wait for their hearings. Doing their best requires honesty and not the vibe of a car salesman accidentally telling someone they’re going to Boston and then dropping them off at Martha’s Vineyard. Any actual person gets this, except for you, because your vibe is car salesman.

    And so you are sputtering in 1K word segments the subtext of which is me me me over and over because you are angry when people actually have compassion, because if it’s not about you and your demands and needs you don’t get it.

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  36. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jax:

    How do they survive during that 150 days? They have to eat, live somewhere, and keep themselves clothed….that’s a really long time to have to sit around and do nothing, and have no way to legally support themselves or their families if they came with children.

    Through the work of CBOs and, depending on the way they entire the country, some direct Federal funds.

    The Federal funds part is tricky because there are a lot of strings attached to it and often applies to only *some* asylum seekers. This gets to a broader point that when it comes to social services for undocumented folks (or people living in legal limbo) the payments often have to come from the State due to restrictions on Federal dollars.

    To be clear: this is a BAD way of handling things. It’s ultimately economically harmful in the short and long term. And, in general, having a patchwork of CBOs do the work of the Federal Government only helps sustain a broken system.*

    This rounds us back to this question of redistribution of migrants, asylum seekers, and undocumented folks. At this point, I will once again yell into the void that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MOVING PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY BASED ON RESOURCES.

    Nada. Zip. Zero.

    The issue with these things is entirely how it is done and what measures are taken to make the process as humane and safe as possible. Beyond ensuring that there are (1) agencies to help with the processing of people (which again, when we talk about the busing aspect, is often the case), (2) that locations are being prepared for their arrival and have the resources to bring them in, and (3) that court venues for their future immigration hearings move with them (or we use technology to allow people to appear for virtual hearings).

    Also, I want to remind folks that border crossings are only one of the ways that people end up as undocumented folks within the US. Many of the cities that people are currently being sent to are full of undocumented folks who either arrived there illegally, overstayed travel periods there, or migrated there after entering the US of their own choice (because of jobs or families).

    So this isn’t a black or white issue on any count.

    * – The issue of sustaining broken systems is a really common moral dilemma for those of us who work in and around government. It’s a big ethical quandary for a lot of folks. In some ways, the best long-term solution would be to let the system crash in order to force action at the Federal level to remake the system. However, the cost in terms of human suffering of such a solution would be immense and there’s no guarantee that under our current system we would end up with anything better.

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  37. Skookum says:

    How one views actions such as DeSantis’s stunt depends upon the level of abstraction one is focusing upon.

    For example, if one is viewing the forced displacement of migrants in immediate terms then you may view the event as either:

    1. A moral outrage
    1. A political coup for your political tribe

    If you are a policymaker or citizen who wants our country to be governed well for the best interest of its citizens and our North, Central, and South American neighbors, then you may view the event as a strong signal that the immigration system is breaking and needs quick, informed, and humane change.

    If you are a student of history, you may view the event as a warning that our county is seriously going down the road of fascism and preparing a significant portion of the country to accept a path that has led, in the past, to genocide.

    Why do I say this? Because those who have studied genocide have identified the stages that lead to the unthinkable act of murdering masses of people. A quick Google search will lead to many sources to support this view, but for brevity I suggest visiting the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

    This site succinctly lists the ten stages of genocide:

    The stages are:

    Classification – The differences between people are not respected. There’s a division of ‘us’ and ‘them’ which can be carried out using stereotypes, or excluding people who are perceived to be different.
    Symbolisation – This is a visual manifestation of hatred. Jews in Nazi Europe were forced to wear yellow stars to show that they were ‘different’.
    Discrimination – The dominant group denies civil rights or even citizenship to identified groups. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship, made it illegal for them to do many jobs or to marry German non-Jews.
    Dehumanisation – Those perceived as ‘different’ are treated with no form of human rights or personal dignity. During the Genocide in Rwanda, Tutsis were referred to as ‘cockroaches’; the Nazis referred to Jews as ‘vermin’.
    Organisation – Genocides are always planned. Regimes of hatred often train those who go on to carry out the destruction of a people.
    Polarisation – Propaganda begins to be spread by hate groups. The Nazis used the newspaper Der Stürmer to spread and incite messages of hate about Jewish people.
    Preparation – Perpetrators plan the genocide. They often use euphemisms such as the Nazis’ phrase ‘The Final Solution’ to cloak their intentions. They create fear of the victim group, building up armies and weapons.
    Persecution – Victims are identified because of their ethnicity or religion and death lists are drawn up. People are sometimes segregated into ghettos, deported or starved and property is often expropriated. Genocidal massacres begin.
    Extermination – The hate group murders their identified victims in a deliberate and systematic campaign of violence. Millions of lives have been destroyed or changed beyond recognition through genocide.
    Denial – The perpetrators or later generations deny the existence of any crime.

    I fear the GOP is dabbling with the Dehumanization stage and Polarization stages. I include the Polarization stage because the GOP uses immigration as wedge issue that divides Americans and undermines a set of common values that unite us.

    I might also mention that slavery was a similar wedge issue. If the South had wanted to keep their slaves and still be part of the Union, President Lincoln provided many proposals to reach a compromise on the issue. They were all rejected by the South because they wanted to spread slavery, not just within boundaries of the states and territories that existed in 1861, but also elsewhere by invading countries and taking their land, just as we did in the Mexican-American War. They were simply not persuadable to any other view.

    Just as the MAGA voting bloc is unpersuadable today.

    Many in the MAGA voting bloc are Christian Evangelists who want a Christian authoritarian government that will impose their values upon the population and don’t want want Muslim immigrants. Many are White supremacists who don’t want immigrants of color. Many are “good people” who are simply tired of the cultural clash caused by immigrants in the southern portion of our country.

    Thus, immigration is a perfect wedge issue for politicians who simply want to be elected for financial gain. Making wise policy is the least of their concerns.

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  38. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:

    So, again, my policy proposal, which I’ve been entirely consistent on, is for the federal government to do what these governors are doing, but widely as official policy and not as a political stunt. Because moving migrants out of overcrowded border towns, so they aren’t sleeping under bridges is a good and moral policy.

    One thing I want to call out here is that current legislation limits the ability of the Federal Government to spend resources on undocumented folks, even within the broad category of “asylum seekers.”

    So while an administrative solution would be great (and I agree that DHS could be doing more) the reality is that significant legislative reform needs to happen in order to actually address these problems rather than shifting the burden onto State and Community funded Community Based Organizations.

    Unfortunately, there is 0 chance of that currently passing a federal level. Heck, even progressive States that fund social services for undocumented folks out of their state budgets (because again you can’t spend most Federal Funds like SNAP on them) rarely talk about those programs in good times (let alone in tough times).

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  39. James Joyner says:

    @Andy: I’m in my phone, so being brief. I don’t object to moving migrants to other places per se. It may make good policy sense to do so, either to alleviate overcrowding or to place them where they can be more effectively processed, housed, employed, etc. I object to simply dumping them on localities that haven’t been prepared to handle them as a political stunt.

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  40. steve says:

    I think Andy is correct in that if you look only at what happens 2-4 weeks after one of the MAGA governors ships some people unexpectedly they might be better off than if they were not shipped away. However, in that intervening period it is going to be chaotic as the receiving people were unaware they were coming. That is certainly not my impression of what happens when the Biden admin busses people. I think it really is reminiscent of Trump’s people separating families. They did that without keeping track of where the kids and families got sent so there was little chance of reuniting the family.

    As far as intent goes is there any doubt that these are really campaign stunts by the governors? Paid for by their state taxpayers.

    Steve

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  41. wr says:

    @Andy: There is a concept that just about everyone in the world understands except for conservatives, and that’s “consent.” You heat it all the time in discussions of sexuality, and now we’re hearing it from you in your inability to comprehend the difference between the bussing programs that liberals are behind and what DeSantis and Abbot are doing.

    You see, when immigration advocates arrange busses to take immigrants to Blue states, they first make arrangements with people in those states so that they are ready and able to take care of the newcomers. You see, these Blue states have consentend to accept these immigrants and have made preparations for them.

    The Blue states that DeSantis is airlifting immigrants to have not been consulted or even warned, they’ve had no chance to prepare, and there are not yet places for the immigrants to go. You see, here they have not consented — to a great degree because they haven’t been asked.

    Is that really so difficult to understand?

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  42. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Ah, you beat me to it… and you were a lot more direct.

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  43. @James Joyner: FWIW, and for anyone who cares, the whole illegal v. undocumented thing led to a whole post.

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  44. @Andy:

    are making is focusing on intentions to the exclusion of effects

    Except, that’s not true in the least. I don’t understand how tricking people into being moved 2000 miles is a neutral effect.

    I think that dumping humans in a place that you know is not prepared to handle them is a non-neutral effect.

    I think taking potential asylum-seekers away from where their hearings are scheduled is a problem.

    None of that is about motive, and I think you are utterly ignoring these, and other, factors.

    And I think if you look at the effects of the bussing program

    The word “program” is rather important here, yes?

    Would you describe what DeSantis did as being part of a “program” designed to help anyone?

    You are weirdly conflating any movement of persons and treating them all equally.

    Maybe if you and Steven and others had some alternative besides effectively forcing migrants to stay put in overcrowded conditions, we could look at and compare policies.

    I am struggling to find where I have said this. Perhaps you can help show me where I have said anything along these lines?

    I honestly, truly appreciate your interactions, but I am at a total loss to understand why you are reading the worst possible interpretation into my position (to include the notion that I don’t care about policy) while reading the best interpretation into DeSantis’s actions.

    I just don’t understand that approach.

    The “main issue” in my view, is how to alleviate the massive influx at the border, which is causing a crisis. The main issue is not the intentions of GoP governors and their bad intentions. Steven then claims it isn’t true that no one wants to talk about policy. But very few have offered any policy alternatives besides the usual “comprehensive immigration reform” platitudes, and most people have simply ignored my own policy proposal.

    The main issue of the post that I wrote is, in my mind clear. That I did not write the post that you wanted may be true, but the notion that 800ish words is supposed to cover everything about a topic is simply unreasonable.

    It strikes me as blatantly bizarre to have the response to “DeSantis shouldn’t have done X” to be “Yeah, but what is your comprehensive solution to the immigration problem–and since you didn’t address it here, it proves you aren’t taking it seriously.”

    And the fact of the matter is that all the recent posts here at OTB about immigration have exclusively been about this narrow criticism of GoP governors

    First, there haven’t exactly been a parade of posts.

    Second, this is largely a news reaction blog, and those issues have been in the news.

    Third, unless someone wants to start paying me a substantial amount of money, I am not going to retire from my day job to increase the comprehensiveness of coverage on the site. (Although if such a patron exists, we can talk).

    I find it highly morally problematic for people to be outraged and morally self-righteous at bussing migrants but remain silent when the federal government is literally dumping people on the streets.

    And I find it ridiculous to assert that a person cannot be outraged about an event without likewise making sure equal outrage hasn’t been expended on some other injustices of another person’s choosing.

    Lots of people here have accused me of being a “bad person” for not being sufficiently outraged by a political stunt

    Which, I would note, I have not. But I find your unwillingness to concede even an inch on this topic to be really odd to me.

    well, I’d turn that around and suggest that many of you are “bad people” for not being outraged about anything else that’s going on, a lot of which is materially worse for migrants than bussing them to northern cities.

    An example of not giving and inch and engaging in tit-for-tat, I would argue.

    But, worse, you are conflating multiple events so that you don’t have to directly engage with DeSantis’ specific stunt.

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  45. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes—but TPS is simply a humane gesture that DHS may make for countries torn by war, natural disasters, and the like. I favor it. But it’s not the same as asylum, which has a very high bar but one that, if met, places a legal obligation on a country. The former is also temporary.

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  46. Skookum says:

    @Andy:

    I’d turn that around and suggest that many of you are “bad people” for not being outraged about anything else that’s going on, a lot of which is materially worse for migrants than bussing them to northern cities.

    First, I believe your intentions and views are based upon decency and knowledge.

    Second, you pissed me off. Let me explain why:

    1. When the Republicans were in charge of the House and Senate, all they did was hold Benghazi hearings, Hillary email hearings, block any legislation supported by President Obama and the Democrats, build a border wall that is technologically obsolescent and harmful to the ecosystem, and lower the taxes upon the wealthy at the expense of the middle and lower classes. What truly meaningful policies, let along reforms in immigration policy, did they make?

    2. We have just survived 4 years of a unstable, unethical president who wanted to become an emperor, and this effort is continuing with the support of the Republican party. What have you done to elect moderate politicians to thwart this?

    3. Immigration has not “been ignored.” It has been consistently put on the back burner to address threats such as COVID, climate change, infrastructure, exiting Afghanistan, and economic turbulence. What have the GOP done to address these issues?

    4. Commenters have consistently replied that they agree planned distribution of immigrants throughout the country to prevent overload in the border states is something that should seriously be considered. What they object to is treating the immigrants as political pawns who are not worthy of being treated with basic human decency. You agree that this is the crux of the matter in this discussion, yet you turn things around to blame the liberals for not doing anything. Give me a break.

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nunca Trumpismo
    @NeverTrumpTexan

    I volunteer as a translator with asylees coming through the Texas border and I wanted to make a thread on who these migrants are, what help is actually needed and why what DeSantis and Abbott are doing is so needlessly cruel.
    Everyone is talking about it, but so few understand

    WHO ARE THESE IMMIGRANTS?
    The first and most important thing you should understand, these are LEGAL asylum seekers. They are not illegals. They are not undocumented.
    They have been given permission by our government to enter the US pending their official court date.

    Once they present themselves to border officials, they are processed and then given a court date to officially plead their case.
    This court date is almost always a year away and in a major city far from the border, like Boston, NY, Miami, Chicago, etc.

    You can always spot the asylum seekers coming out of detention facilities because they don’t have shoelaces (story for another day) and they have court papers in one hand.
    Another thing I would note, the Biden admin is STILL immediately deporting the vast majority of asylees.

    The folks that make it through come from the most harrowing conditions you can imagine. I have met whole families who had to flee El Salvador on foot because gangs threatened to kill them if their son did not join.
    I met a man who was attacked by police for leading a protest.

    In almost every case, these are smart, hard working CHRISTIAN refugees. Their ability to assimilate into America and thrive is limitless. They love America. They just want a chance to live and thrive in peace.

    WHAT HELP DO THEY NEED?

    Because these groups already have court dates and in almost every case, they have family they can stay with, they only really need two things: short term food and shelter and transportation.
    And I mean short term. Usually less than 12 hours.

    In most cases, these asylees only need help getting to the bus station and maybe a bite to eat while they wait. Sometimes they need to stay overnight until the next bus leaves and sometimes they need help buying a ticket, though family usually buys the ticket for them.

    Border towns and local non profits have been dealing with this for 4 years. This did not start with Biden. It was actually worse under Trump.
    But these areas already know what to do with these transient asylees and they already have the resource networks in place to manage them

    In most cases, an asylee will leave detention and organizations like Catholic Charities are right there to greet them and figure out if they can go straight to the bus station or if they need temporary shelter.
    Local municipalities & non profits here have gotten real good at it

    WHY IS “BUSSING” ASYLEES AROUND THE COUNTRY SO BAD?
    Initially, I didn’t complain too much about Abbott’s decision to bus immigrants because it actually helped them.
    It gave them a free ticket to get closer to family. And they weren’t being forced to go.
    But….

    The problem with Abbott’s approach is that they are often lying to the migrants about where they are going and what will be waiting for them.
    And even worse, when they get to NY or DC, Abbott is deliberately choosing to drop them off far away from the resources they need.

    Abbott could easily notify DC that they are coming and then he could drop the migrants off right at the doorstep of the bus station or non-profit ready to greet them. It would cost him nothing.
    But he is choosing to dump them where it harms the City and migrants the most.

    By dumping them in front of the VPs house, like he did this week, now local officials have to figure out, without any notice, how to get 50 people in the heart of the City out to where the resources are ready to receive them.

    And what DeSantis did yesterday takes it up another notch. He deliberately lied to immigrants in Texas who were already being managed by non-profits and shipped them into MV where no one was ready to help them. It was deliberately cruel and created to maximize pain.

    Credit to the people of Martha’s Vineyard who stepped up in a huge way and responded. They did exactly what they were supposed to: they took care of their immediate needs and helped them get on their way.
    What folks here in Texas have been doing for years.

    If Abbott and DeSantis actually cared about helping relieve the burden created by asylum seekers, they could just as easily and far more cost-effectively funnell the millions they are spending on their cynical stunt and give it to the non profits already doing the job.

    Do asylees create a burden on border communities?
    Sure. But it is a burden we have already learned how to manage and the only thing we really need is more resources.
    It would be far more effective to just buy migrants a sandwich and a bus ticket than a private plane to MV.

    This is the kind of deliberate misinformation Conservatives are being fed.
    These migrants SHOULDN’T stay in MV because they have family and court dates in other places.
    They were TRICKED into being there.

    Quote Tweet
    Ted Cruz
    @tedcruz

    Leftist hypocrisy: National Guard sent to interdict 50 illegal immigrants who disturbed liberals’ golf games & Chardonnay at Martha’s Vineyard.
    Biden does NOTHING to address 4.2 MILLION illegal immigrants who have flooded small towns in Texas.
    Biden doesn’t care. twitter.com/emilieikedanbc…

    Here is a short story on what organizations like Catholic Charities are doing to help
    You will find no better Christians then the folks working to accept, love and support asylum seekers
    “That which ye have done to the least of these…”

    <a href="Catholic Charities“>Catholic Charities of Laredo prepares for incoming migrants from Del Rio crisis

    Addendum:
    In light of my thread, please note how deliberately deceptive this is.
    They are not illegals. They were never expected to stay in MV. Getting them help from the National Guard is a great way to care for them and get them on their way.

    Congressman Troy Nehls
    @RepTroyNehls

    So Martha’s Vineyard couldn’t tolerate 50 illegal aliens, and they had the military remove them after just one day?
    Interesting!

    One more story: met a couple of guys from Honduras who ran into a kind couple who bought them some Whataburger. I joked that, now that they had eaten Whataburger, they were “Tejanos de verdad”. I will never forget their smile.
    Always wish I could find that couple and thank them

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  48. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Just out of curiosity, are you okay with my proposal that northern cities provide free busses for any homeless person who wants to go south during the winter? I think you have to agree they will be better off.

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  49. Just nutha says:

    @Jax: To my view, the 150 day restriction is kind of the point. It gives a benefit (asylum) alongside an anti-benefit (you have to be wealthy enough to survive the wait unassisted).

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  50. Just nutha says:

    @Jax: If they’re lucky they get legal assistance that can navigate the petition process. And I even think that happens once in a while, but not often and certainly not often enough.

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  51. Stormy Dragon says:

    @wr:

    and you were a lot more direct

    I’ve lately found I’m losing patience for the “rhetorical chicken” game the right keeps playing where they drag out a bad-faith argument that’s been debunked a thousand times already and expect to be treated like it’s a serious position and not just trolling.

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  52. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Your entire post is basically like arguing that rape is morally okay because other people are having consensual sex. The difference between coordinated programs to spread out migrants with coordination between the source and the destination is nothing like tricking people into getting abandoned in random places without warning.

    And you know this, but you’re playing the normal Republican game of playing dumb with your bad-faith “but what’s the difference?” bilge.

    and

    @wr:

    There is a concept that just about everyone in the world understands except for conservatives, and that’s “consent.”

    You both are asserting facts not in evidence.

    I’ve already provided evidence that humanitarian organizations in border towns are guiding migrants to the bussing programs as an option if it’s appropriate for them. If they find that a migrant wants to go to NYC or DC, then they give those migrants information so they can take advantage of that option. The accusation that I’m operating in bad faith because I want to turn this from a political stunt into an actual solution is rich come from two people who seem willfully ignorant of the facts.

    The theory you are putting forward that there is no “consent” is a lie. The theory that government agents are forcing people to get on busses to NYC is a lie. I’m not the one operating on bad faith here by spreading lies about the actual facts of what’s really going on.

    @Modulo Myself:

    The federal government is not dumping people on random streets. They are doing their best to move people to where they need to go while they wait for their hearings.

    In many cases they are dumping them on the streets. This is very well documented. The problem is that there is no room to house them, so after minimal processing, so DHS has to dump them in the local area to fend for themselves and get assistance from third parties.

    For all the people complaining about the lack of notice and coordination, that’s the case here. For those complaining about “consent,” well, DHS isn’t asking for input or permission when putting these people on the street.

    @Matt Bernius:

    One thing I want to call out here is that current legislation limits the ability of the Federal Government to spend resources on undocumented folks, even within the broad category of “asylum seekers.”

    Then what do you make of the reports that the administration is considering doing just that? If you want to get cynical about it, there was a completely dubious legal basis for wiping away hundred of billions in student debt, so I’m sure a “creative” way to facilitate movement of migrants out of the border region could be accomplished with sufficient political will. And that’s exactly what the administration seems to be debating internally.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think that dumping humans in a place that you know is not prepared to handle them is a non-neutral effect.

    Which is what is happening now in border communities. Where is your outrage?

    Would you describe what DeSantis did as being part of a “program” designed to help anyone?

    And here you are talking intentions yet again. It wasn’t intended to help anyone. As I keep repeating, intentions aren’t the only or even the primary thing that matters.

    I am struggling to find where I have said this. Perhaps you can help show me where I have said anything along these lines?

    If you seek to prevent GoP governors, even for politically dubious reasons, from moving 10k people to other areas, then the consequence of that is that they are forced to stay in border areas. Since you’ve given no alternative for what to do or how to handle them, then what else should I conclude? I’m simply pointing out the consequences of what you’re advocating for.

    I think taking potential asylum-seekers away from where their hearings are scheduled is a problem.

    Migrants are living under bridges in El Paso because there is no room to house them. What is more important to you, keeping them in the local area and living under bridges for court dates, or giving them better-living conditions in a different part of the country – because in the current circumstances, you can’t do both. My view is that moving them is the far better choice, especially since they won’t have a court date for a very long time. What is yours?

    I honestly, truly appreciate your interactions, but I am at a total loss to understand why you are reading the worst possible interpretation into my position (to include the notion that I don’t care about policy) while reading the best interpretation into DeSantis’s actions.

    You continue to miss the point. I’m not reading the “best interpretation” nor am I defending DeSantis. I’m considering the effects separately from intentions. I’ve been pretty clear what I think should happen. What is your alternative? Unless I’ve missed something, the only thing you’ve said is that you want to stop GoP governors from providing transport to migrants because they are doing so for partisan political reasons, and that is bad. I’m merely pointing out what will happen should you get what you want, which is worsening the overcrowding problem in border communities. If you think that’s preferable over giving migrants politically-motivated transportation, then fine, at least admit the tradeoff.

    The main issue of the post that I wrote is, in my mind clear. That I did not write the post that you wanted may be true, but the notion that 800ish words is supposed to cover everything about a topic is simply unreasonable.

    And as long as I have commenting privledges here, I’ll continue give my opinion about what I think the “main issue” actually is. I don’t expect you to cover every topic fully, but I also think it’s unreasonable for you to expect that commenters should confine responses to the tailored and narrow scope of your posts.

    It strikes me as blatantly bizarre to have the response to “DeSantis shouldn’t have done X” to be “Yeah, but what is your comprehensive solution to the immigration problem–and since you didn’t address it here, it proves you aren’t taking it seriously.”

    I agree that Desantis shouldn’t have done “X.” I get that you want the conversation to begin and end there, but what DeSantis did (and what other governors are doing – and the city of El Paso) does not exist neatly tucked away in an apothecary drawer. If you want to selectively criticize and offer no alternatives, that is your right, but I think it’s completely fair to criticize your selective choices and try to bring in a different context that considers the bigger picture.

    And I find it ridiculous to assert that a person cannot be outraged about an event without likewise making sure equal outrage hasn’t been expended on some other injustices of another person’s choosing.

    I don’t find it ridiculous at all. Selective outrage is, IMO, a major problem with the current political climate and political debates. Selective outrage is a sign that someone is operating on something other than first principles. My view is that you either care about the plight of migrants or you don’t, and selective outrage is contrary to that principle.

    Which, I would note, I have not. But I find your unwillingness to concede even an inch on this topic to be really odd to me.

    Yes you haven’t, which I do appreciate.

    I would also note that I have conceded an inch on this topic – in my last comment on the previous post I stated:

    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.

    And I would just point out that a lot of people here are unwilling to concede even an inch, with some of them still clinging to outright falsehoods.

    But, worse, you are conflating multiple events so that you don’t have to directly engage with DeSantis’ specific stunt.

    And you, seemingly, are so completely focused on DeSantis’ specific stunt so that you don’t have to directly engage on bigger and more important issues that are highly relevant context for the stunt and which are negatively affecting tens of thousands of people on a daily basis.

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  53. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..northern cities provide free busses for any homeless person who wants to go south during the winter?

    Many years ago, before I met her, my ex-wife was a probation officer in Guam. She told me that some particularly difficult cases were given a one way plane ticket to LAX.

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  54. mattbernius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Good thread and it matches my understanding from talking with other CBOs and front line people.

    And yes things were much worse under Trump’s DHS (and that was an intentional administrative decision).

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  55. Andy says:

    @Skookum:

    I don’t really have any problem with your list of criticisms of Trump and the GoP. I am a de facto Democrat at this point, but that doesn’t mean I drink the kool-aid and carry their water.

    As to this:

    Immigration has not “been ignored.” It has been consistently put on the back burner to address threats such as COVID, climate change, infrastructure, exiting Afghanistan, and economic turbulence.

    Thanks for the honesty, and I agree with that. Politics is about tradeoffs, and immigration has gotten the short end of the stick. Reasonable people can disagree when it comes to priorities.

    But to me, this is what pisses me off about the selective outrage here – Immigration is a back-burner issue until there is some partisan fish to fry. Once these fish are done frying, it will go back to a back-burner issue. Meanwhile, the fundamental problems won’t go away.

    Which is ironic consider what you wrote next:

    Commenters have consistently replied that they agree planned distribution of immigrants throughout the country to prevent overload in the border states is something that should seriously be considered. What they object to is treating the immigrants as political pawns who are not worthy of being treated with basic human decency. You agree that this is the crux of the matter in this discussion, yet you turn things around to blame the liberals for not doing anything. Give me a break.

    So I’m the bad guy for pointing out that liberals only care about this issue when it comes to pointing out Republican intransigence. Thanks for confirming that the selective outrage is not an accident.

    @MarkedMan:

    Just out of curiosity, are you okay with my proposal that northern cities provide free busses for any homeless person who wants to go south during the winter? I think you have to agree they will be better off.

    Sure, why not if that’s what they want.

    And I think that’s a good segway for a fundamental issue here, which is the problem of NIMBYism. Lost of people and communities like the idea of helping immigrants or the homeless, as long as that help takes place somewhere else.

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  56. Andy says:

    Looks like my latest comments are in moderation. Perhaps too many links or posting too often.

    [MB: Not sure what happened, but they are freed now.]

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  57. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Andy: This presupposes that there are only two alternatives to the problem: either leave immigrants in place in border cities, or ship them hundreds or thousands of miles away. Given the combined political clout of Texas, Florida, and Arizona, I guess it never occurred to Messrs. Abbott, DeSantis, and Ducey to organize an effort to put pressure on Congress to come up with a viable nationwide solution.

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  58. Mister Bluster says:

    @alanstorm: All this is doing is putting illegal immigrants where they are supposedly loved.

    …and removing them from ostensibly christian jurisdictions where they are clearly despised.

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  59. Andy says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    This presupposes that there are only two alternatives to the problem: either leave immigrants in place in border cities, or ship them hundreds or thousands of miles away. Given the combined political clout of Texas, Florida, and Arizona, I guess it never occurred to Messrs. Abbott, DeSantis, and Ducey to organize an effort to put pressure on Congress to come up with a viable nationwide solution.

    Lots of pressure has been put on Congress, it’s just been mostly ignored.

    The problem is that immigration reform is a third rail, and Congress does not want to touch it. Texas, Florida, and Arizona are only three states – they can’t force Congress to act. The Democrats did not attempt to make immigration a priority during the time they’ve controlled the agenda in both chambers – as Skookum pointed out above, it’s a back-burner issue. And the Republicans also didn’t when they controlled the agenda for part of Trump’s term except for very limited efforts at enforcement.

    So this impasse effectively does leave two alternatives with only a bit of room at the margins. Here are some other potential courses of action that might actually be achievable:

    – Give lots of private and/or public money to humanitarian organizations, so they can operate a migrant transportation system – one that isn’t tainted by owning-the-libs Republican partisanship.

    – Promote another executive power grab a la DACA and the dozens of other examples and just have the federal government make it happen. Declare it an emergency and use FEMA money for example.

    There are probably other ideas, but those are the alternatives I can think of at the moment.

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  60. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:

    Then what do you make of the reports that the administration is considering doing just that?

    Andy, I again point you to my comment that:

    “At this point, I will once again yell into the void that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MOVING PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY BASED ON RESOURCES.

    Not to mention that I have previously stated and will state here again that I think the DHS can be doing more.

    I was simply calling out that there are legislative limits on what can be spent on these folks. Beyond that, I cannot comment on the current internal proposal that is circulating in DHS. I fit mirrors the current approach taken by the States, including the general lack of coordination, then that’s not a great plan (or reasons many other have articluated). AND, as someone with some experience in this space, I’m also trying to explain the constraints on why they might be able to easily create a better plan.

    If you want to get cynical about it, there was a completely dubious legal basis for wiping away hundred of billions in student debt, so I’m sure a “creative” way to facilitate movement of migrants out of the border region could be accomplished with sufficient political will.

    I think this is a better point. That said, we have yet to see if the loan forgiveness plan will pass its almost inevitiable judicial review. And more broadly, as a bit of an institutionalist at heart, I would prefer solutions to this that were not end runs around the current legislative process.

    And that’s exactly what the administration seems to be debating internally.

    Again, I think we need to be cautious, based on limited reporting, of assuming what “the administration” is debating–in part because, as I keep trying to point out, the devil is in the details. Is this just the current State-based approach with more potential destinations? Will this be creating more direct relationships with CBOs and providing more funding to provide more safety net access to these individuals? Will additional infrastructure be put in place to help track these people as they move throughout the country?

    And to your point, how are they going to try and get around funding restrictions (or will they even try).

    This is where I once again say that I see nothing wrong with doing this attached to a better program than what is currently being done.

    And it’s possible to say all of that and still say that cheap political stunts like what DeSantis did were fundamentally cruel. This isn’t a black or white issue.

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  61. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:

    Lots of pressure has been put on Congress, it’s just been mostly ignored.

    The problem is that immigration reform is a third rail, and Congress does not want to touch it.

    It is without a doubt a politically frought issue, but I really do not think that it’s quite the 3rd rail it’s portrayed to be. The problem is our current governmental structures at the federal level essentially turn it into a 3rd rail because of one party’s resistance to change leading the other party to not want to spend political capital on trying to fix it.

    Congress has attempted to address this multiple times in the last 20 years. And each time the efforts were largely defeated by Republicans, usually in the Senate, due to the filibuster. There was also the case under Obama when the Republicans, who were in control of the house, had not interest in taking up the issue as it was perceived as it could be a potential win for Obama.

    This is an issue that one party, in particular,* doesn’t want a solution to (even when their own “leader” was pushing for it during the GW administration) and we have a system that gives said party outside the ability to block attempts at solutions.

    And to Steven’s long-standing point, because of this, we are stuck where we are due to the structure of our legislature.

    * This is where I will say that as with many issues the Democrats are not perfect on this. But this really isn’t historically (at least for the last two decades) a “both sides are equally to blame” issue. That said, if you can find a serious attempt at meaningful immigration reform presented by GW or Trump that was blocked by Democrats, then I’m happy to reevaluate my position.

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  62. @Andy:

    And you, seemingly, are so completely focused on DeSantis’ specific stunt so that you don’t have to directly engage on bigger and more important issues that are highly relevant context for the stunt and which are negatively affecting tens of thousands of people on a daily basis.

    This, like most of your comments on these threads, comes across to me as: “You won’t write want I want you to write about at this particular moment in time, so I refuse to acknowledge the point you are trying to make, even if it is possible that I understand what you are trying to say.”

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  63. It also seems to be a really important issue that one of our major political parties is stoking racist sentiments on a complicated issue and it actively trying to dehumanize a whole class of persons.

    This is kind of a problem, yes?

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  64. Jon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: He’s engaging in a tactic which is very standard among MRA/anti-feminist/incel groups (not saying that’s where he got it, but … interesting) of “Debate me!”. That is, demanding that someone engage in debate on a topic, which often isn’t actually even up for debate, as a way to change the focus and assert rhetorical dominance. When people don’t give in to the demand that is then used to claim they can’t support the original position. It’s bad faith all the way down.

    I am a de facto Democrat at this point, but that doesn’t mean I drink the kool-aid and carry their water.

    Also kind of a tell.

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  65. Jon says:

    @Jon: I just remembered that I have a WAPO subscription so that link above may not work; here’s an archived one that should work without a subscription.

    I’d also note that @alanstorm made substantially the same arguments Andy has been making, but much more concisely. One of the benefits of being a well-practiced troll, I reckon.

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  66. Brando says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I’m still waiting for folks to also pick up on noted liberal Heterodox Zaid Jilani’s “um actshully…” response to the Reverse Freedom Riders thing, which was throwing up “well today the North is more segregated than the South.” Granted that is 100% true and has very little to do with the underlying historical argument [sp] other than to say “hey, is that a squirrel over there?!”

    You want a pickup, you asked for it.

    I reject that Reverse Freedom Riders comparison outright. The citizens bused by segregationists were still that. Citizens. These are illegal immigrants, who don’t have the same right. Our current crisis would be avoided if existing law was carried out and the VP didn’t falsely claim our border is secure. Any argument that overlooks this distinction is not made in good faith. Besides, Andy accurately pointed out that the Biden regime has already been secretly moving people from the border to small towns across the country. Besides, if everyone is crowing about humanity, governors like DeSantis, Ducey, and Abbott help these people get to sanctuary cities that claim to want them (“no one is illegal”). So this whole comparison can miss me.

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  67. Matt Bernius says:

    @Brando:

    These are illegal immigrants

    Again, these were all asylum seekers, which are different than undocumented folks.

    who don’t have the same right.

    Contra to popular understandings, even undocumented citizens have rights within the US.

    Our current crisis would be avoided if existing law was carried out and the VP didn’t falsely claim our border is secure.

    I am genuinely curious about what a “secure” border means to you. The very fact that these people, who presented themselves again as asylum seekers, were picked up and processed is a demonstration of border security.

    This is not unlike people who use drug seizures at the border as a sign of a lack of security, when, in fact, they actually indicate the opposite.

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  68. Andy says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I was simply calling out that there are legislative limits on what can be spent on these folks. Beyond that, I cannot comment on the current internal proposal that is circulating in DHS.

    Thanks, I get that. I did not mean for my question to be snarky – I was honestly wondering what the Administration might be considering given the legislative restrictions that you mentioned.

    And more broadly, as a bit of an institutionalist at heart, I would prefer solutions to this that were not end runs around the current legislative process.

    Agreed.

    Again, I think we need to be cautious, based on limited reporting, of assuming what “the administration” is debating–in part because, as I keep trying to point out, the devil is in the details.

    I agree, but this does contain some details, including this:

    White House officials have previously set 9,000 per day as an internal trigger to begin what they refer to as “interior processing,” where migrants are flown or bused from the border to interior cities where shelters can take care of them as they await reunification with family members and eventually their dates in immigration court.

    We’re at 8,000 a day now.

    So, I’m not being pedantic here – I’d really like to know what the Administration has the authority to actually do and, if there are legislative limitations, how they might get around them, considering they’ve at least done some pre-planning.

    This is where I once again say that I see nothing wrong with doing this attached to a better program than what is currently being done.

    And it’s possible to say all of that and still say that cheap political stunts like what DeSantis did were fundamentally cruel. This isn’t a black or white issue.

    I agree with that except that I don’t think the effects of these political stunts are actually cruel, for reasons I’ve already described.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This, like most of your comments on these threads, comes across to me as: “You won’t write want I want you to write about at this particular moment in time, so I refuse to acknowledge the point you are trying to make, even if it is possible that I understand what you are trying to say.”

    Not at all, my complaint isn’t about what you post about. The frustration I frequently have is that when I ask you a question or criticizes what your write using a broader or different context, you tend to retreat to a defense along the lines of – “well, that’s not what the post is about, and you’re conflating events” or you simply ignore them.

    Again, I think the fundamental disconnect here is as Mimai described – where I’m taking a more utilitarian view, and you and others seem to be taking a deontological view. I’m trying to challenge you to consider that the way you’ve characterized this “cruelty” and “inhumanity” does not match with reality on the ground.

    You really haven’t addressed any of these core points or criticisms – you’re just avoiding them with these rhetorical tactics.

    So let me ask you this, so there is no confusion: Would the roughly 10k people and counting who have been transferred via these “political stunts” be better off if they instead stayed in overcrowded border communities? I would honestly like to know if and why you might think that is more humane and less cruel. And particularly given the context that humanitarian groups are coordinating and informing migrants about these “political stunts” that probably benefit them.

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  69. Gustopher says:

    @Jon:

    I’d also note that @alanstorm made substantially the same arguments Andy has been making, but much more concisely. One of the benefits of being a well-practiced troll, I reckon.

    I read Andy’s comments as “let’s not get too emotional about this” which is often fine, but the “this” in question is a practice that depends on dehumanizing and otherizing refugees, and making certain targeted people somehow less than people.

    Yes, the folks who were sent to Martha’s Vineyard (why did the Superman v. Batman “Martha” scene not somehow take place in a vineyard?) are probably going to be better off than the ones left in Texas, because they’ve just had their profiles raised and it is 10% harder to ignore the cruelty of their situation than the ones that are not on national tv.

    But scaling up performative cruelty is going to have very different effects for the vast majority. And I think he is missing that.

    So, different from alanstorm. (I don’t remember my drive by right-wingers… is there an implied front after the storm in his handle?)

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  70. Andy says:

    I read Andy’s comments as “let’s not get too emotional about this” which is often fine, but the “this” in question is a practice that depends on dehumanizing and otherizing refugees, and making certain targeted people somehow less than people.

    Guilty as charged about the emotional part. Again, I tend to prioritize effects over real or construed motivations. I tend to find people are way too confident in their assessments of what motivates political enemies.

    But scaling up performative cruelty is going to have very different effects for the vast majority. And I think he is missing that.

    I’m not sure I understand what your saying here, specifically what is meant by scaling up performative cruelty. My proposal is to normalize the policy and remove the “cruel” elements and provide more oversight. I don’t think that would increase performative cruelty, but I think I may not understand your point.

    So, different from alanstorm. (I don’t remember my drive by right-wingers… is there an implied front after the storm in his handle?)

    I have no idea who that is, but I guess that person is bad, so thanks, at least, for that acknowledgment.

    @Jon may not realize that I’ve been commenting on this blog since the mid-aughts. If I was a troll, I would have been banned long ago. Jon isn’t the first and won’t be the last to make that accusation against me, and I think it will have as much merit as all the others, which is to say no merit at all.

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  71. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    I agree with that except that I don’t think the effects of these political stunts are actually cruel, for reasons I’ve already described.

    FWIW, then I think ultimately this is the point of disagreement here. I think we are coming at this from subjective perspectives that probably won’t be resolved. So, I am going to jump off here.

    Thanks for taking the time to unpack your POV.

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  72. @mattbernius: Yup, that is the crux of the disagreement.

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  73. @Andy:

    The frustration I frequently have is that when I ask you a question or criticizes what your write using a broader or different context, you tend to retreat to a defense along the lines of – “well, that’s not what the post is about, and you’re conflating events” or you simply ignore them.

    And my frustration is when I am asked to comment on some other topic or story that, unlike the issue I am commenting on, I haven’t given the same level or thought or preparation. It strikes me as trying to change the subject, especially when it comes across to me as “don’t talk about this thing you are talking about, talk about this other thing that I want you to talk about.”

    Moreover, it is often the case (and I think it is the case here) that the commenter not only wants me to talk about something else, they don’t want to at least acknowledge the point I am trying to make (whether they agree with it or not).

    So let me ask you this, so there is no confusion: Would the roughly 10k people and counting who have been transferred via these “political stunts” be better off if they instead stayed in overcrowded border communities? I would honestly like to know if and why you might think that is more humane and less cruel. And particularly given the context that humanitarian groups are coordinating and informing migrants about these “political stunts” that probably benefit them.

    I think that you are conflating several different actions, as best as I can tell (the movement of persons by the federal government, the bussing by governors, and the DeSantis plane ride).

    If we are talking about moving people deliberately to try and disperse need to enhance help, then we aren’t talking about stunts.

    And we agree that there needs to be a better, more comprehensive approach to all of this–but again, if Florida is willing to allocate millions ot simply moving people around, why not actually try to fix things? Are you really of the view that Abbott, et al. are trying to do something useful here?

    The honest answer to your question is that I simply don’t know based on the information that I currently have. I think it likely that in many cases they are better off in some ways (less crowded conditions) and less well off in the ways (being placed in places even less able to handle them in terms of services and, especially, for their asylum hearings–an issue that I don’t think you have addressed).

    I know for a fact that it is impossible for you to know that they are universally better off, or that most of them are better off (which would satisfy a utilitarian calculation).

    Indeed, you seem indifferent to the obvious fact that they are being treated as playing pieces in many of these situations, and in the DeSantis one in particular, which I fundamentally don’t understand.

    Is it possible that some of these people in Massachusetts are not better off than they were in San Antonio? Of course, that is possible. Is it possible some are worse off? This, too, is possible.

    In truth, neither of us has the evidence to make a conclusive utilitarian calculation on this point, but there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that there was deception (meaning this was not an informed consent situation) and that there was a callous disregard for human beings who were treated as props.

    Moreover, this is part of a broader attempt to further dehumanize immigrants as part of a broader partisan project.

    So do I think motives matter here? Yes, I do.

    And do I think that is important to address the question of how elected officials, who have enormous power, use that power as it pertains to vulnerable humans? Yes, I do.

    And range into the deontological for a moment, I do think that we should ask ourselves whether this is the way we would want to be treated if we were in a vulnerable state.

    And, I would stress, the issue is not mere movement of people.

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  74. @Andy: Let me offer this: I will certainly be paying more attention in the future to stories about the movement of migrants by the federal government.

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  75. Moosebreath says:

    @Andy:

    “I tend to find people are way too confident in their assessments of what motivates political enemies.”

    In this case, we don’t need to speculate, we can just take DeSantis’ word for it:

    “To DeSantis, at least, flying undocumented Venezuelans from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard fits this model neatly. In response to questions at an event in the Panhandle, he conceded that his action wasn’t really about the migrants, or the struggle of the border cities to take in larger numbers of them. It was about owning the libs. “All those people in D.C. and New York were beating their chest when Trump was President, saying they were so proud to be sanctuary jurisdictions,” he said. “The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they all of a sudden go berserk, and they’re so upset that this is happening. And it just shows you that their virtue signalling is a fraud.””

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  76. mattbernius says:

    Another data point to take into consideration about whether or not current state run busing programs are working in good faith or not:

    .@NYCMayor says his office reached out to @GregAbbott_TX’s office and asked them to coordinate on sending buses of migrant to NYC, and they said they would. “They did not.” Six more buses arrived early this morning without notice.

    https://twitter.com/erinmdurkin/status/1571504918862725127

    The entire thread gets into more details.

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