By Christopher Buchanan
WASHINGTON D.C. — As immigration tensions rise and the issue reaches a point of deadlock, Republicans have employed a new, inhumane strategy to garner Democratic attention: they are sending asylum seekers to Democratic doorsteps.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ home and the Massachusetts island Martha’s Vineyard were just two of the recent Northern Democratic regions to which Republican governors have sent over 10,000 South American, Central American, and a small group of West African migrants by plane and bus since the first of these instances in April per Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office. The key figures of this retaliatory movement against the Democratic Party are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
Washington D.C has been newly declared as “an unofficial border town” by Tatiana Laborde, Director of SAMU, an nonprofit organization concerned with humanitarian assistance for migrants. D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has requested assistance through the deployment of the National Guard twice for what she has recently called a “public emergency.” Her most recent plea was denied on Aug. 22.
Both of these requests were denied by the Pentagon after it was determined that a mobilization for a migration issue would impede troop readiness.
The Republican governors pushing this movement have stated that their intentions are to amass Northern Democratic awareness of the current border crisis. After sending a bus of between 75-100 Venezuelan migrants to the Naval Observatory in Washington and Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence and taking credit for doing so, Governor Abbott wrote in a tweet, “We’re sending migrants to her backyard to call on the Biden Administration to do its job & secure the border.”
Vice President Harris criticized the political stunt. “I think it is the height of irresponsibility much less, just frankly a dereliction of duty when you are an elected leader, to play those kinds of games with human life, and human beings,” she stated in reference to Abbott.
There has been a mix of responses from Republican officials otherwise.
Certain Republicans seem to share the sentiment that the transportation of migrants deeper into the United States is more problematic than provocative. Tony Gonzalez, representative for Texas’s 23rd district, has condemned Abbott’s actions, stating in a tweet, “People who DO NOT qualify for asylum should be sent back to their country of origin not bused around the U.S. as political capital.”
Democrats seem to share a view of Republican unethicality. President Biden stated recently at the Gala of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, “Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props” for political gain.
Many Venezuelans were allegedly informed that if they were to get on buses and be transported to these Democratic hotspots, they would be receiving food and housing assistance. This occurs amid a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
One Venezuelan migrant, Dario Maldondo, told the Associated Press, “It is like a war between the party of the governor of Texas and the party of Biden.” And these Venezuelan migrants have been caught in the crossfire.
Patricia Andrade, founder of the Miami nonprofit Raíces Venezolanas that focuses on migration assistance for Venezuelans, has stated that due to the false promises, she has noticed that “many of the Venezuelans who come end up in the streets” due to DeSantis’s and Abbott’s actions.
Churches, certain civil rights groups, and state immigration organizations have been offering as much assistance as possible in New York and Washington D.C.
Upon the reception of migrants at Martha’s Vineyard on the morning of Sep. 17, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented in a debriefing that the fact that “the migrants, including children, who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, were misled about where they were being taken and what would be provided when they arrived is also deeply alarming,” condemning the Republican governors’ actions on behalf of the White House.
Questions about whether these migrants’ civil rights have been upheld are being raised, as are questions about whether DeSantis was motivated by political benefit.
Amid criticism from the White House, DeSantis stood by his decision to send migrants to Northern States. DeSantis claimed that he sought to “protect” Florida.
“We are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures,” the Florida governor commented.
DeSantis cites failure of the Biden administration to secure the US-Mexico border as his motivation for collaborating with Abbott to send migrants to Washington D.C, New York, and Massachusetts.
Following the movement of these migrants, President Biden has sought action under the pandemic Title 42 concerned with expulsion into Mexico; in essence, he is attempting to send asylum seekers from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua into Mexican states for asylum.
This occurs at the dawn of the midterm elections, in which Abbott and DeSantis are both running for re-election in their respective states.