Governors Exploit Migrants

A political statement Exploitation? A free ride? Busing migrants to the East Coast raises concerns.

Alexandra Siegel

They are shuttled like cattle to unfamiliar places. They are packed onto buses with no food or water. They are promised new opportunities. They are stripped of their humanity. More than 10,000 migrants have been bussed to the East Coast since last spring and promised a new life with opportunities for success. This is a humanitarian crisis.

In Texas, Florida, and Arizona, GOP governors send immigrants to Democrat-led cities as a political stunt. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) say they have been shipping immigrants north to dramatize how broken America’s immigration system is.

However, the exploitation of these vulnerable people by those three governors only makes matters worse.

First, we need to understand the history of U.S. policy on migrants and immigration. Since 1783, 86 million people have legally immigrated to the United States. Since the country won independence from Britain, the U.S. has been regulating and restricting immigration, especially for minorities.

Through the Chinese Exclusion Act, which provided an absolute 10-year ban on Chinese laborers immigrating to the United States, or The Immigration Act of 1924, which limited the number of immigrants allowed in the country, the U.S. has a dark history of xenophobia.

In recent years, the election promise by former President Trump to “build a wall” to “crackdown on illegal immigrants” at the southern border has exacerbated the immigration issue.

Conservatives have been extremely strict on immigration laws, especially in states that face large amounts of undocumented immigrants.

However, the governors of these three states are pulling a stunt that exploits and misleads migrants, all in order to prove a point to Democrats.

Treating human beings like political pawns is unconscionable, but the political stunts played by Arizona, Florida, and Texas governors are more disappointing than surprising.

They send thousands of migrants to Democratic strongholds, including New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, and even Martha’s Vineyard.

Ducey’s, DeSantis’, and Abbott’s aims are to humiliate the Biden administration and generate headlines on the surge in illegal border crossings, which the GOP is using as a political cudgel in the midterm elections.

Rightfully, Democrats are outraged by these efforts from Republicans.

Kamala Harris told Vice News, “They are playing games. These are political stunts with real human beings.”

In Texas alone, about 8,000 migrants have been bussed to Washington since April, including people sent to Harris’s front yard, according to a statement from Governor Abbott’s office.

They have also bussed about 2,200 to New York and 300 to Chicago.

“It is difficult for me to grasp the repercussions of this removal fully.

“I can only imagine the bewilderment and disappointment of the people impacted.” -Kevin Guay

Claiming the Biden administration’s “open border” policy is a threat to internal security because of drugs and criminality, DeSantis and Abbott title this operation “Operation Lone Star” to fill in the so-called dangerous gaps to secure the border.

Besides migrants being used as political pawns, their travel conditions are inhumane.

Some migrants — from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and elsewhere — have suffered trauma in their trek north. Either on planes or buses to D.C. and New York, they are deprived of adequate living conditions to survive a journey this far.

DeSantis and others shuttle an overbearing number of people onto each transport, making the trip uncomfortable and the water/
food supply scarce.

Many have immediate needs for food, shelter, and medical attention on arrival.

To be specific, a private charter of 48 migrants from Florida was shipped up to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a popular vacation destination on Cape Cod.

While not expecting their arrival, the townspeople of Martha’s Vineyard scrambled to accommodate and support the families that arrived on the island on Sept. 14.

Despite their hospitality, it is not their job to cater to DeSantis’s political agenda.

DeSantis and the other governors need to think about their actions from a humanitarian perspective—not through an act of political gamesmanship.

“Governor Abbot’s and DeSantis’ recent actions appear to be political posturing. Campaign promises, pandering, donor appeal, and an upcoming election undoubtedly influence their decision-making,” said Guay.

However inhumane these tactics might be, there is also a legality aspect. Attorneys in Cape Cod are researching how 48 migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard can secure a visa, and they are finding that they might be entitled to a type of visa reserved for victims of a crime.

Migrants said they were promised jobs and accessible housing for three months. They were given McDonald’s gift certificates and hotel lodging in Texas before the flights left, but then planes did not take them where they were initially told—places like New York, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Missouri.

This raises legal questions among attorneys– some calling the situation “human trafficking” and “kidnapping.” Misleading asylum seekers to get on buses could be considered fraud, but it is still hard to definitively declare such action illegal. These unprecedented actions are all in a gray area, and the legality of Abbot’s and DeSantis’ actions is unclear as of now.

Guay says it is “difficult to say whether it is illegal or not. I am uncertain whether using tax revenue for this purpose is against the law. Certainly, treating people as objects and misleading them with false promises is, at the very least, tactless and unethical.”

As the winter months are rapidly approaching and temperatures in the East are decreasing, the transportation of thousands of migrants could become increasingly dangerous.

The tide of migrants continues to flow in, and many do not see an end to this political game in the near future, but we can fight for a more humane approach to our immigration system.

“We could modernize our ports of entry to treat asylum seekers more humanely and efficiently. However, this would require a major overhaul of the existing infrastructure and divert a significant sum to new technology and professional development.

Another suggestion is to focus on the root causes, including famine, violence, and political instability experienced in certain parts of Central and South America.

There is no panacea to our national immigration system,” said Guay.

The question of legality and morality reduces the argument to both-side-ism. It reduces unconscionable acts of manipulation, greed, and political opportunism to a simple debate, where journalists have to platform abhorrent, bigoted beliefs as valid and reasonable. That’s a false dichotomy.

Using human beings—asylum seekers fleeing violence and oppression, often from “socialist” countries as political pawns is not noble or valid.

Instead of upholding the status quo, inhumane immigration system that criminalizes desperation from refugees, we must radically challenge the power structure that allows this to continue.