By Olivia Barker-Dell
For decades, Florida has been a safe destination for Venezuelan migrants, in hopes to leave the South American country’s economic and political issues behind. Before September of this year, there were roughly 200,000 Venezuelans that called Florida home. But starting in late September 2022 , Ron DeSantis ,the recently re-elected governor of Florida, has taken charge of moving Venezuelan migrants out of Florida and into Democratic states such as New York And Massachusetts as well as Washington DC.
On Wednesday, September 14th, 2022, DeSantis arranged for an estimated 50 Venezuelans to be moved from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Migrants who told media outlets they were moved while being lied to about where they were being directed to, but DeSantis quickly denied these claims. Many Democrats firmly disagree with how these immigrants are being handled, but the Florida GOP argued to the federal government that the country’s main focus should be the thousands of immigrants arriving in the United States each day, into states such as Florida. During a press conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that “people want to freak out about Martha’s Vineyard, whatever, but I’m telling you that the bigger problem here is not that 50 people were sent to Martha’s Vineyard. The bigger problem here is that every single day, thousands of people enter the country illegally.”
Soon after, the group of Venezuelan immigrants sued DeSantis, and other governmental officials involved in the relocation. In the suit, they stated that promises were made that education and housing would be provided for, but these claims were outright lies.
According to those on the plane, who thought they were flying to NYC or DC, they soon found out they were flying to Martha’s Vineyard . The plaintiffs are suing for emotional distress, obstruction of civil rights, and obstruction of immigrant laws on the federal level. DeSantis has repeatedly denied these allegations and has said everything was voluntary, further claiming that the purpose of these flights was to give these people a fresh start. He says all participants were fully aware that the final destination of these flights were Massaschussets.
On November 8th, 2022, millions of people all over the United States went to their local polls and voted for their next governor. In Florida, Ron DeSantis has been governor since January of 2019. This year he ran once again, against Democrat Charlie Crist. It wasn’t even close: DeSantis won Florida’s election by a margin of 59.4% (4,613,783 votes), to Charlie Crist’s 40% (3,105,469). Clearly, DeSantis’ decision to relocate Venezuelan immigrants didn’t make a significant difference in the midterm elections. In fact, his chances of beating the democratic opponent increased this year, as he only won by a margin of .4% in 2018. It makes you question what exactly the people of Florida value in a political leader.