The Daily Telegraph

Florida governor flies migrants north to Obama’s island haven

Republican Ron Desantis charters plane to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachuse­tts in border crossings protest

- By Nick Allen in Washington

RON DESANTIS, the Republican governor of Florida, sent two planeloads of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, the affluent Massachuse­tts island that is home to Barack Obama and a host of public figures.

It was an escalation of efforts by Republican state governors to highlight record numbers of crossings at the Us-mexico border under Joe Biden’s administra­tion.

Separately, Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, had two busloads of illegal immigrants driven to Washington, where they were dropped outside the official residence of Vicepresid­ent Kamala Harris.

Mr Obama took seven summer holidays on Martha’s Vineyard, and in 2019 spent $12million (£10.5million) on a 29-acre estate there.

Famous names who live, or have lived, on the island, south of Cape Cod, include Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Meg Ryan, Bill Murray and Larry David.

It is a popular summer holiday destinatio­n for entertainm­ent figures, including Oprah Winfrey, and has a year-round population of about 20,000. A spokesman for Mr Desantis, who is considered a potential Republican presidenti­al nominee in 2024, said the planes were chartered with some of the $12million Florida has set aside to transport illegal immigrants out of the state.

They said: “States like Massachuse­tts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individual­s, who they have invited into our country by incentivis­ing illegal immigratio­n, through their designatio­n as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administra­tion’s open-border policies.”

Another added: “Martha’s Vineyard residents should be thrilled about this. They vote for sanctuary cities – they get a sanctuary city of their own. And illegal aliens will increase the town’s diversity, which is strength. Right?”

The roughly 50 migrants were seen arriving at the island’s airport and being put in vans. They were later observed sitting outside a church in Edgartown.

Several migrants said they voluntaril­y agreed to board a plane in San Antonio, Texas, and it went via Florida.

They had been told they were going to Boston, Massachuse­tts, they added. The migrants included children as young as three.

Dylan Fernandes, a local Democrat politician, said: “Our island jumped into action putting together 50 beds, giving everyone a good meal, providing a play area for the children, making sure people have the healthcare and support they need. Many don’t know where they are.”

Julian Cyr, another Democrat representi­ng Martha’s Vineyard, said: “There was no advance notice. The island scrambled to respond. They essentiall­y set up shelters, the equivalent of a hurricane or Nor’easter.”

Most of the migrants were Venezuelan­s. Leonel, 45, who swam across the Rio Grande, said he was grateful to the islanders for giving him a pair of shoes.

The two buses sent from Texas to Washington brought as many as 100 migrants to the vice-president’s doorstep. It was a response to comments she had made in a recent interview, saying that the border was “secure”.

Customs and Border Protection are logging more than 200,000 encounters with illegal immigrants per month at present. The group sent to Ms Harris’s residence, which included children, were picked up in Eagle Pass, Texas, and were originally from Venezuela, Uruguay, Colombia and Mexico.

Karine Jean-pierre, the White House press secretary, accused Republican governors of using migrants as “political pawns” in a “shameful” manner. She said: “It is a political stunt. It is a cruel, inhumane way of treating people who are fleeing communism. We’re talking about children, we’re talking about families.”

The White House was given no advance notice of migrants being dropped at the vice president’s residence, but Fox News was, she said.

 ?? ?? Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, also sent migrants from Central and South America from Eagle Pass to Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington
Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, also sent migrants from Central and South America from Eagle Pass to Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington

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