Letter from America

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott seem to be using migrants to put across their extreme views

Republican governors are ramping up political stunts ahead of the midterms, thinks Holly Baxter

Wednesday 21 September 2022 21:30 BST
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<p>Migrants from Venezuela wait to be transported to a local church in Washington DC </p>

Migrants from Venezuela wait to be transported to a local church in Washington DC

Last week, Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott – both far-right Republicans of the Trumpian ilk – collaborated on a bizarre political stunt. Having conducted rallies and political campaigns around anti-immigration rhetoric and repeatedly blamed the southern border crisis on Democrats, the two used taxpayer money to send busloads and a planeload of migrants to blue states.

Over the week, thousands of confused refugees and immigrants arrived in New York, Washington DC and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The mayors of those cities claimed they had been told nothing in advance, and local people scrambled to find food, shelter and schooling for the new arrivals. On the island of Martha’s Vineyard – a particularly upmarket area known for boasting the summer homes of numerous multimillionaires, including the Obamas – a school bus filled with local Spanish students was deployed to help with translating what the Spanish-speaking migrants were saying.

Perhaps Republicans expected more of an outcry from Democrats, rather than a welcome party. Fox News certainly did its best to report that blue cities were “scrambling” to “cope with the influx”, although in reality a place like New York City can easily absorb 2,500 people who arrive unexpectedly, even if the logistics might initially seem difficult. Of course, nothing about this stunt will change the immigration situation in the United States. And it might not even make the governors as popular as they imagine.

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