✈️ Ticket to Ride
Reports that Florida Governor (and potential 2024 presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis sent 50 migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts have covered the news for days. Now, some are beginning to raise questions over the legality of the political stunt. As NPR notes, immigration law experts believe DeSantis has engaged in human trafficking. “An enticement like that, regardless of whether you sign a waiver, is fraud and that is part of the definition of human trafficking,” Elizabeth Ricci, an immigration lawyer in Florida, said. “I think that everybody on those planes has a case as a direct result of being transported by the governor.”
DeSantis is using $12 million from the state’s budget “to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens out of Florida,” which is confusing because they weren’t even found to be in the state. DeSantis has argued that they were potentially trying to get to Florida as their ultimate destination.
“What we're trying to do is profile: 'OK, who do you think is trying to get to Florida?' If they get in a car with two other people, there's no way we're going to be able to detect that,” DeSantis said in a press conference.
While DeSantis has been flying migrants from Texas, the state's own governor, Greg Abbot, who like DeSantis is up for reelection in November, has been bussing migrants to Washington, D.C. As The New York Times reports, migrants arrested at the border have been offered two choices: a $50 bus ticket to San Antonio, or a free ticket to D.C. The mayor of the district has said that 4,000 migrants have arrived by bus since May, and it has led to a 10% rise in homelessness.
Is DeSantis taking reelection campaigning into dangerous new territory? It's yet to be seen and potentially adjudicated, but regardless, a political stunt that plays with the line of human trafficking is a hyper-polarizing act.