Sunday, May 12, 2024

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: DeSantis' migrant flights turn Florida governor into an accidental humanitarian (Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post/GANNETT column)

What an eloquent column about Boy Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS lying to Venezuelan refugees in Texas, outside his jurisdiction, falsely inducing them to get on state-paid planes to Martha's Vineyard.  A Massachusetts federal judge found the immigrants' claim goes to trial. 

The judge went on to write that treating “vulnerable individuals” this way is “nothing short of extreme, outrageous, uncivilized, intolerable and stunning.” 

From Palm Beach Post:

DeSantis' migrant flights turn Florida governor into an accidental humanitarian

Frank Cerabino
Palm Beach Post

I nominate Gov. Ron DeSantis for an award. Let’s call it the Accidental Humanitarian Award.

DeSantis unintentionally came to the rescue of dozens of undocumented migrants two years ago who arrived at the Texas border to make legally sanctioned asylum claims.

They hit the jackpot by finding themselves in DeSantis’ sights.

The migrants could have easily been lost in the paperwork morass at the border if DeSantis hadn’t devised a tortuous pathway that guaranteed they could live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Who knew a ham-handed attempt at cruelty would take such a charitable turn?

Using Florida taxpayer money, DeSantis sent planes to Texas to pick up four dozen undocumented migrants from Venezuela and fly them to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

DeSantis didn’t mean to help the immigrants who had arrived at the southern border. He thought he was bolstering his presidential campaign by being extra mean to them.

Using deceit to ship off the migrants without notice to a blue state vacation spot was supposed to be one of those attention-grabbing tough-guy posturing acts that he could trot out in Iowa coffee shops while standing tall in his high-heel boots and campaigning for president.

“We are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction,” DeSantis boasted about the Florida flights to Massachusetts. “And yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures.”

I think he meant “greener pastures” as a sarcastic remark rather than a heartfelt hope for the well-being of the men, women and children who “volunteered” to board a plane for a one-way trip to a distant destination that didn’t know they were coming. The migrants were essentially hoodwinked, given false promises of awaiting jobs and $10 McDonald’s gift cards to leave Bexar County in Texas at the behest of a governor of another state.

“I believe that they were preyed upon,” is how Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar put it.

Immigrants from South America wait for assistance in 2022 after Gov. Ron DeSantis flew them to Martha's Vineyard from Texas.

The Texas sheriff eventually filed misdemeanor and felony criminal charges against unspecified participants in the plot. Those charges have been referred to the local district attorney and grand jury.

Meanwhile, a civil suit filed on behalf of the transported migrants has resulted in a federal court ruling last month that allows the migrants to make legal claims against the plane company that Florida contracted to make the flights.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs found that the migrants had “sufficiently alleged” claims that a “civil rights conspiracy” had been carried out against them. 

That’s kind of a fancy way to say they were kidnapped. 

The suit’s defendants include DeSantis, Florida’s Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue and other state officials. 

BARNSTABLE -- 10/01/23 -- Pedro picks up Janet Abbott who he calls his American mother. 
Four of the Venezuelan migrants who were transported to Martha's Vineyard last year by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are now living with Janet Abbott in Barnstable.

The judge ruled that DeSantis and the other defendants “were not legitimately enforcing any immigration laws” but were instead involved in a “scheme to boost the national profile of Defendant DeSantis and manipulate (the migrants) for political ends.”

The judge went on to write that treating “vulnerable individuals” this way is “nothing short of extreme, outrageous, uncivilized, intolerable and stunning.” 

t first, like many Floridians, I was aghast that my tax dollars could be used to perpetuate cruelty for the personal benefit of one man. But now I see what an accidental humanitarian act this is turning out to be.  

More:DeSantis activates Florida State Guard again on Haitian immigrants desperate for safety.

DeSantis’s ploy was so heartless that it benefited the migrants in ways he surely never imagined. 

By turning them into potential crime victims in a pending criminal investigation, DeSantis has made them eligible for something called a U visa.

U visas are granted to people who may possess information about a crime and be useful to investigators prosecuting that crime. 

It allows these crime victims to work in this country and to attain lawful status for a period of up to four years. It also allows them to apply for immigration green cards after three of those years. U visa holders are not subject to deportation while the visa is in effect.  

Some of the migrants who fell prey to the Florida scheme have applied through immigration attorneys for U visas, and those visas have been granted. 

Who knew that DeSantis would turn out to be such a friend to those desperate people in need?

Or to put it another way, that such an “extreme, outrageous, uncivilized, intolerable and stunning” act of cruelty could work out so well for its victims and turn its perpetrator into an accidental humanitarian.

Frank Cerabino is a news columnist with The Palm Beach Post, part of the Gannett Newspapers chain.

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