Govs. Abbott and DeSantis had discussions about busing migrants prior to Martha Vineyard drop-off

In a statement, Abbott's office encouraged other governors to join in his migrant-relocation crusade.

Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn criticism for his program of busing asylum seekers out of Texas and dropping them off in Democrat-controlled cities. - Instagram / governorabbott
Instagram / governorabbott
Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn criticism for his program of busing asylum seekers out of Texas and dropping them off in Democrat-controlled cities.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had conversations with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about his program of busing asylum seekers out of state prior to DeSantis flying a planeload of migrants to Martha's Vineyard, an Abbott spokesperson has confirmed.

In a statement emailed to the Current, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze also said Texas' Republican governor encourages other states to follow his lead in expelling asylum seekers.

On Wednesday, some 50 migrants arrived by plane at Martha's Vineyard, an affluent island enclave off the coast of Massachusetts, drawing national headlines.

Although DeSantis took credit for the stunt and admitted to paying for the flights, several of the migrants, most of whom are Venezuelan, told reporters that they had flown from San Antonio, according to NPR.

According to online flight records, the planes departed from the Alamo City, making stops in Florida and South Carolina along the way. However, Abbott's office wouldn't confirm whether all, or just some of the migrants, were flown from here.

"Though we were not involved in these initial planes to Martha's Vineyard, we appreciate the support in responding to this national crisis and helping Texans," Abbott spokesperson Eze said. "Gov. Abbott encourages and welcomes all his fellow governors to engage in this effort to secure the border and focus on the failing and illegal efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration to continue these reckless open border policies."

DeSantis  now joins Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, another Republican anti-immigrant hardliner, in expelling migrants from their states in what critics call a pricy and cruel game of political grandstanding.

The Venezuelan migrants' arrival puts Martha's Vineyard — a vacation spot for the rich and famous — in the company of Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C, which have been targets of the Republican governors' migrant relocation programs. So far, the governors have sent more than 8,000 migrants to Democrat-led cities.

Abbott has repeatedly maintained that his program is a bid to make President Joe Biden crack down on the current surge illegal border crossings. However, federal data shows that the apprehensions have actually increased during Biden's watch.

Civil rights groups also point out that the Texas Republican launched the busing program amid a reelection campaign in which he's shifted further and further right to shore up his base. DeSantis' participation comes as the Florida politician has been discussed as prime contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

On Thursday around 6 a.m., two busload of asylum seekers ended up at the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris. Around 100 migrants, also mostly from Venezuela, were dropped off at the front gates, CNN reports.

"They were literally just dumped here like human garbage in front of the vice president's house," President of the League of United Latin American Citizens Domingo Garcia said during a Thursday afternoon press call. "That's un-Christian, un-Texan, un-American and something that should not be allowed. Shame on you, Gov. Abbott. Shame on you, Gov. DeSantis."

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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