A defiant Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was hit with a class-action lawsuit for flying a group of roughly 50 Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard, blasted the Biden administration for treating migrants “horribly” and said sanctuary cities have to “bear the brunt” of the open border policy.
“Those migrants are being treated horribly by [President] Biden. They were hungry, homeless; they had no no opportunity at all,” the Republican governor said during a news conference in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday.
“It was volunteer, offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions, because it’s our view that, one, the border should be secured, and we want to have Biden reinstitute policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and make sure that people aren’t overwhelming,” he continued.
“But short of that, if you believe in open borders, and this is sanctuary jurisdictions that should have to bear the brunt of the open borders. So that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
DeSantis, who is running for a second term in Florida and is a likely Republican presidential hopeful in 2024, is being sued in federal court for a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to transport the migrants to the island on the Massachusetts coast.
The migrants, the suit contends, were duped into boarding planes in Texas with promises of jobs, gift cards and without being fully informed of their final destination.
“No human being should be used as a political pawn,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, the organization that filed the suit in Boston federal court.
DeSantis questioned where the outrage is when migrants are being abused by the cartels, when migrants drown in the Rio Grande, when 50 migrants are found dead in an abandoned sweltering truck, or when huge amounts of fentanyl are being smuggled across the border.
“The only thing I hear them getting upset about is you have 50 that ended up in Martha’s Vineyard, then they get really upset,” he said.
DeSantis also faulted the residents of Martha’s Vineyard for their treatment of the migrants.
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“They were provided an ability to be in the most posh sanctuary jurisdiction maybe in the world,” he said. “Martha’s Vineyard people deported them the next day.”
“They could’ve absorbed this. They chose not to. But what it shows is if 50 was a burden on one of the richest places in our country, what about all these other communities that have been overrun with hundreds or thousands?” he continued.
DeSantis also shot back at critics who decried his actions as a political stunt.
“The biggest stunt was Biden coming in as president and reversing [President Donald] Trump’s policies just so he could virtue-signal that he was against Trump,” the governor said. “It didn’t matter that the policy had worked.”