Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for flying a group of about 50 mostly Venezuelan asylum-seekers to Martha's Vineyard, a summer spot for some elite liberals. It's an island haven where they can escape having to see any homelessness, poverty, hunger, or crime, unfortunate human conditions they all claim they've worked hard to alleviate. The stunt was the latest salvo fired in the escalating battle between Republican governors and the White House over immigration. Within 24 hours, however, the military (National Guard) was called in to "assist" these dislocated pawns in their transition off the island and onto a Cape Cod military base. Why the military was required to handle what would be an afternoon's worth of migrants in a tiny Texas border town isn't clear at this point, but it strikes an unnerving tone. It does set a precedent that could politically hound the Democrats in the future.
A number of Democrats have decided that taking the refugees "voluntarily" to the military base was the "humane" thing to do, because they'll be comfortable and have access to health care, legal resources, etc., but when was the last time a progressive called for the military to be summoned to handle a few dozen escapees from communism? Tom Cotton's New York Times op-ed calling for the military to be brought in to control the violence of the George Floyd protests created such an uproar that editorial page editor James Bennet lost his job for running something written by a US senator. CNN reported that the migrants voluntarily went to the base: "They boarded government-arranged buses willingly, officials said." Still, one has to wonder how much choice they had.
Something weird is going on with this Martha's Vineyard brouhaha. While the Biden administration has shipped migrants across the country in the dead of night, suddenly DeSantis (aka "DeathSantis" to Democrats) is "Hitler" once again for doing the same thing in the light of day. Martha's Vineyard operates under different rules—rules known only to a few insiders. The MSM, of course, is shying away from this angle.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, addressing the controversy, said, "These are the kind of tactics we see from smugglers." But smugglers put migrants in such danger that they often die, and they charge money for their services. The perfect follow-up question would’ve been to ask Jean-Pierre about the New York Post analysis of online flight-tracking data suggesting that approximately 2000 migrants had arrived at the Westchester County Airport in suburban New York on 21 flights between midnight and 6:30 a.m.
Being dumped in a suburb of NYC sounds as much like smuggling as what happened on that exclusive island off of the coast of Massachusetts. Jean-Pierre also lamented that those dropped off on the island were "fleeing communism," but since when do Democrats care about people fleeing communism, a system they refuse to condemn?
Ron DeSantis has a gift for tying Democrats up in emotional knots, after which they resort to a satire-level of hyperbole. People like Hillary Clinton fall right into his trap. The former first lady told Joe Scarborough that flying migrants in comfortable planes to a wealthy island was, "literally human trafficking." It "literally" is not human trafficking. Human trafficking requires a buyer and a seller, and usually involves forced labor or sexual exploitation. Neither of these conditions apply to Martha's Vineyard. Morning Joe, during the conversation, repeatedly accused DeSantis of human trafficking—a first-degree felony—while also claiming the Governor was using migrants as political pawns. He got the "political pawn" part right, so it's too bad neither he nor Hillary could leave it at that and avoid embarrassing themselves with ludicrous—and totally unfounded—allegations of serious criminal activity.
"Hyperbole" is the key word in describing the non-Republican response to this event, and that's what DeSantis wanted. The Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce released a statement referring to their "humanitarian crisis," by which they meant "business crisis," but 50 people represents .0025 percent of migrant encounters at the border so far this fiscal year. While Kamala Harris recently assured Americans that their borders were "secure," the U.S. Border Patrol logs 8000 immigrants crossing the border every day, which is the highest daily rate in American history. This doesn't include the border crossings they don't process. If this is a humanitarian crisis in wealthy Martha's Vineyard, what should we call what's happening in Texas border towns like Eagle Pass and Del Rio that are getting their resources stretched to the limit? The states at the southern border have been providing shelter, clothing, education, health care, and food to hundreds of thousands of migrants for a long time now.
With the Democrats in denial about the border crisis, this sort of Republican stunt was inevitable. There are reports that the refugees were lied to and told they were going to Boston, which is unconscionable if true, but the choice of Martha's Vineyard was perfect for highlighting the Democrats' double standard. Having spent significant time on that island, I know how buttoned-down and impenetrable it is. After driving there one summer to work during college, I was forced to sleep in my car for a week until I found lodgings. My buddy Matt drove his car there, and the cops constantly rousted us in our cars. Martha's Vineyard is welcoming to only a thin slice of the American public. Refugees not included.
The Democratic narrative now is that this political stunt has backfired on DeSantis because the people of Massachusetts rallied around the refugees, whose needs are met on a military base. But as soon as the military was called up, and as soon as the announcement came that the refugees were being whisked off the sanctuary island for the Democratic elite, DeSantis got what he wanted.
If DeSantis is thinking about sending more planes to Martha's Vineyard, he may want to reflect on the fact that, in May, he signed a bill establishing a "Victims of Communism Day" in his state "to honor the hundreds of millions of people who have suffered under communist regimes across the world." Sending escapees from communism out of his state to score political points makes him look like a phony.