Volunteers and state officials in Delaware began preparing Tuesday after reports and flight plans surfaced suggesting a plane hired last week to take migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was about to bring another group of migrants to the president’s home state.
By Tuesday afternoon, however, there was no sign of such a flight, and the plane expected to take off from San Antonio’s Kelly Field had not even arrived at its departure airport.
“We are aware of the reports and continue to prepare for the possibility of unannounced migrants arriving in Delaware,” Emily David Hershman, a spokeswoman for Delaware Governor John Carney, said in a statement to CNN. “Our teams at DEMA and DHSS are working with community organizations and other partners to make sure migrants arriving here get the support they need.
“We are coordinating with federal officials and are prepared to host these families in an orderly manner while they complete their asylum applications.”
Last week, a group of nearly 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard under agreements made by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Migrants He spent 44 hours on Martha’s Vineyard and has since been transferred to Joint Base Cape Cod.
DeSantis, a Republican up for re-election this year, has said he wants to call attention to the migrant crisis on the US-Mexico border and criticize the immigration policies of the Biden Administration. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, another Republican running for re-election, has also sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York and Washington, both led by Democrats, over the summer.
Flight tracking sites showed a night flight plan with a commercial scheduler and the Federal Aviation Administration that resembled one of the Ultimate Jet charter planes used on the Martha Vineyard flights and that flight. They listed a route from Kelly Field in San Antonio with a short stop in Crestview, Florida and Georgetown, Delaware.
CNN saw volunteers arriving at Georgetown’s Delaware Coastal Airport, though plans were unclear.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, told CNN he’s been on the phone — including “much of last night” — with community leaders to “make sure we provide a proper, welcoming and supportive reception in Delaware” in the event. migrants are sent to their own state.
“In other words, how cruel it is to a group of people who are seeking asylum. “There’s going to be jobs and housing on both sides of this flight, get on this plane,” Coons said. “And then they get off the plane and say no. You are 1,000 kilometers away from where the hearing will be.’
Earlier, a DHS official told CNN that the agency had touched base with the state of Delaware and provided general guidance, as well as contacted nearby non-governmental organizations in case there was a flight on Tuesday.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre would not say how the White House received a planeload of migrants headed for Delaware.
“I don’t have specifics from who or where we got it from, I can say that we have coordinated closely with the people of Delaware, with Delaware officials,” he said.
“I can tell you that our heads did not come from Governor DeSantis, whose sole purpose, as he has made very clear, is to create chaos and use immigrants fleeing communism as political pawns,” he said. “So it’s about creating political theater.”
CNN reports on steps taken to get migrants on flights to Martha’s Vineyard
Over the past nine months, DeSantis has repeatedly suggested that Delaware would be a landing spot for migrants transported through Florida’s new relocation program — teasing the president’s home state more than any other Democratic destination, often to massive applause from Republican audiences.
DeSantis initially received the threat as a warning to the federal government not to send large groups of migrants processed at the border to Florida. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, DeSantis told the crowd “If Biden is throwing illegal aliens into Florida from the southern border, I’m funneling them into Delaware.”
When that didn’t happen, DeSantis began pitching the idea of using state dollars to transport migrants directly from the border to Biden’s doorstep.
“They don’t like it when red states send illegal aliens into their communities,” DeSantis said at a rally for GOP candidates in Pittsburgh last month. “We’re happy to help with that, not only do you have to ship to New York and DC, but you also have to ship to Delaware.
At an unrelated press conference Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis said he “can’t confirm” reports of a flight to Delaware, but argued that the Martha’s Vineyard flight is helpful to the migrants involved.
“They were hungry, homeless, had no choice,” DeSantis said. “They were given the ability to be in perhaps the most elegant sanctuary jurisdiction in the world. And apparently Martha’s Vineyard is said to have deported them the next day. They could have absorbed this. They chose not to.”
In fact, Martha’s Vineyard and Massachusetts State officials coordinated with the military to relocate the migrants to Joint Base Cape Cod.
The flights to Martha’s Vineyard were strongly criticized by the White House, Democratic officials and immigration lawyers, who say the migrants were misled at their final destination and used for political purposes. Lawyers for many of the migrants said on Monday that the leaflets given to their clients were “very misleading” and “enticed (their) clients to travel because (relocation) assistance was available”.
A Democratic Texas sheriff said Monday afternoon that his agency will open an investigation into the Martha’s Vineyard flights, saying he believes they were “exploited and misled.”
However, DeSantis defended his actions on Fox News Monday night and noted that Martha’s Vineyard was a “sanctuary jurisdiction,” a term for places with policies to limit cooperation or involvement with federal immigration enforcement.
“They all signed permission forms to go and then the vendor who’s doing this for Florida gave them a packet with a map of Martha’s Vineyard, with numbers for different services on Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis said. “Why didn’t they want to go, seeing where they were? They were in a very, very bad condition and they had to be cleaned, everything, treated well.’
US Customs and Border Protection encounters at the US-Mexico border have already topped 2 million this year, according to agency data, as migration from countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba has spiked.