As the Republican governors of Texas, Florida and Arizona continue to use a political tactic to move immigrants out of their states, Delaware officials and immigration advocates on Tuesday prepared to offer help after reports indicated that a private plane carrying a group of immigrants could land at a nearby airport. Summer home for President Biden.
Flight tracking websites appear to show that the plane chartered by the same company that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used to transport immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, last week was scheduled to take off from San Antonio on Tuesday morning with a short layover in Crestview. , Florida, before landing at the Delaware coastal airport in Georgetown around 1:30 p.m.
But by early Tuesday evening, the plane had yet to reach the town of about 7,500. Flight trackers showed the plane instead went from Nashville to Teterboro, New Jersey
The office of Delaware Governor John Carney, a Democrat, said Tuesday that it is coordinating with federal officials to prepare for a possible arrival. Jill Friedel, director of communications for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, said at a briefing Tuesday afternoon that the agency has not been in contact with the offices of DeSantis or Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, who has also sent immigrants to other states. She said Delaware officials have been working with government agencies and community groups to provide food, shelter, transportation, and health care services to immigrants, and they have set up a central donation site to go live.
“It’s a humanitarian effort on our part,” she said. “We want to support the people who may come to our state.”
Councilwoman Cristina Diaz Malone said Georgetown was prepared for the potential arrival of immigrants and had seen a large outpouring of support with a network of experienced people mobilizing to help. I noticed that Georgetown Previously welcomed Guatemalans who arrived to work in poultry farms in the nineties.
“This is not the first rodeo in Georgetown,” she said.
White House Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters earlier Tuesday that the Biden administration “has received news of the flights” and is “closely coordinating with state officials and local service providers who are willing to welcome these families in an organized manner as they pursue their asylum claims.”
When asked about the situation, Biden indicated that DeSantis should visit Delaware himself.
“We have a beautiful coastline,” the president told reporters.
While Delaware officials continued preparations for a possible arrival, some immigrants who boarded flights to Martha’s Vineyard last week and the Allianza Americas group filed a lawsuit against DeSantis Tuesday in Massachusetts federal court. The class action alleges that immigrants were fraudulently targeted and induced to “board a plane and cross state lines through misrepresentations and false promises.” On Monday, Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County, Texas, said he launched a criminal investigation into the flights that transported 48 immigrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week.
In addition to DeSantis, Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey have sent thousands of immigrants on buses to other Democratic strongholds — Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago — in recent months. Those who reached Martha’s Vineyard were mostly from Venezuela.
Rosana Artiaja Lobenza, a volunteer in Casa de Venezuela, Delaware, said she arrived Tuesday morning feeling sad but ready to take in any immigrants coming and to work as an interpreter. Artega Lobenza has described herself as a housewife mother who cares about the community, the state and her fellow Venezuelans who are suffering amid the humanitarian crisis that has driven more than 6 million from the South American country.
Migrants have been stopped along the border more than 2 million times this fiscal year, an all-time high driven in part by an increase in Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguas fleeing authoritarian governments and economic hardship, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This number does not represent individual migrants because many try to cross the border – and get caught – multiple times.
Arteaga-Lopenza said Casa de Venezuela cannot provide financial assistance, but it does provide emotional support for incoming Venezuelans and access to food and shelter and information such as how to enroll their children in school and where to look for jobs.
Before the scheduled arrival of the flight, Arteaga Lupineza had hoped to welcome the migrants with a hug and a smile, but said she believed their vulnerable situation had been taken advantage of.
“I hope they don’t come – not because they are not welcome,” she said. “We shouldn’t use it as a political hoax.”
Media reported that Florida has reallocated federal COVID-19 aid to pay for flights. On Tuesday, DeSantis declined to confirm whether he spent public dollars moving immigrants to Delaware but advocated moving immigrants to so-called safe haven destinations like Martha’s Vineyard, saying, “It’s really made a bigger impact than anyone thought it could.”
“What we’re doing is not the ultimate solution,” he said. “I think it opens people’s eyes to the solution, which is, let’s have a secure border, let’s stay in Mexico.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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