Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office challenged arguments that he “misled” illegal migrants to board planes to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, saying that they were given days to decide whether to travel to the island, senior officials with the governor’s office said on a call with reporters Monday afternoon.
The illegal migrants, who were flown from Texas to the island, were informed of their destination and given days to decide whether they wanted to board the flights the governor was offering, the officials said. DeSantis sent two planes of illegal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a popular destination for many wealthy elites, on Sept. 16. (RELATED: ‘Height Of Hypocrisy’: Sheriffs Hammer Liberal Sanctuary Cities For Complaining About Illegal Migrants)
“Everybody was given multiple opportunities to, you know, to voluntarily go or to decide even after receiving meals, accommodations and an opportunity to clean up and get some rest to stay behind if they wanted and some chose to do that. These were people that were in a rough situation, and undoubtedly had their circumstances improved,” one official said.
The Daily Caller News Foundation recently obtained the packets of documents that DeSantis’ office gave to the illegal migrants that pointed them to local refugee and shelter resources and a map with the island labeled and marked with a red star. The official acknowledged reporting of such documents from multiple outlets, saying some reports show “authentic” packets.
“They were given every opportunity over a multiple day period to decide if they didn’t want to go on the trip and to go a different direction,” the official said. “Indeed, some of these individuals after a night or two of accommodations chose to stay behind and not go on the trip. During the flights, individuals were given bags with snacks, with water, with other provisions of information taken from the Massachusetts website that talks about benefits that are available in a sanctuary state.”
The illegal migrants were homeless, malnourished and had been sleeping in parking lots around the Texas border before they were given shelter and time to decide whether to take the flights, according to the officials.
“Many had been in a shelter at some point previously and had been kicked out, did not have a place to go and essentially we’re wandering homeless along the border,” the official said. “We gave everybody a voluntary opportunity, it was made very clear it was voluntary to go to Massachusetts, and at multiple occasions prior to the departure of these flights these individuals were told they would be going on Martha’s Vineyard.”
Several states have threatened DeSantis with possible legal actions. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate DeSantis’ effort for alleged kidnapping and civil rights violations.
About 50 illegal migrants DeSantis sent to Martha’s Vineyard have since been relocated to Joint Base Cape Cod because the island was not equipped to help them for a long period of time, Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said at the time.
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