Charlie Crist is calling Gov. Ron DeSantis unfit for office after Florida delivered Venezuelan and Colombian migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
The Democratic gubernatorial nominee called a news conference one day after reporters confirmed that Florida flew immigrants who crossed the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard, a symbol of Democratic elites. DeSantis first voiced his intent to send immigrants who crossed the border illegally to Martha’s Vineyard and Delaware, the home state of President Joe Biden, in late 2021.
Speaking to reporters, Crist called the act “disgusting and vile” and a political move to rile up his base in preparation for a presidential bid.
“When you are this inhumane in how you treat human beings, you’re not qualified to be Governor of anything,” Crist said Thursday.
“This is somebody that’s really not in control of his faculties,” he continued.
Local officials also say they were caught off guard by the arrival of the two charter planes carrying 50 migrants Wednesday afternoon.
Some reports from Martha’s Vineyard say the migrants were told they would receive housing and jobs upon arrival. Additional reports said the migrants left the airports in vans while others say the migrants walked several miles to reach a community service center.
“They’re escaping oppression,” Crist said. “They’re trying to seek a better life and freedom, and this is how he responds to it, like their cattle? I mean, it’s reprehensible.”
Republicans have suggested delivering migrants to the doorsteps of left-leaning communities would spark action from Democrats. Speaking in Niceville, DeSantis called the current border situation “indefensible.”
“The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they all of a sudden go berserk, and they’re so upset that this is happening,” DeSantis said. “It just shows you, their virtue signaling is a fraud.”
The Republican Governor declared that Florida isn’t a “sanctuary” state.
“What would be the best is for Biden to do his damn job and secure the border,” DeSantis said.
During his own news conference, Crist argued DeSantis didn’t have to transport migrants to voice his opposition to Biden’s border and immigration policies.
“If he had a problem with any kind of policy of the Biden administration, he can voice it,” Crist said. “He doesn’t have to engage innocent human beings in this way, in an inhumane fashion, to try to make a political statement.”
Crist called for justice to be served and compared DeSantis’ leadership to that of a socialist regime or former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
He didn’t offer specific immigration policies when asked for his solution. However, he said he wouldn’t treat them like animals.
“I wouldn’t have shipped them on a plane. I wouldn’t have lied to them. I would have kept them in Florida and treated them humanely, and given them comfort and make sure they were fed and nourished and treated like human beings,” Crist said. “I would do the opposite of what he’s done.”
At DeSantis’ request, lawmakers approved $12 million in this year’s budget for the Department of Transportation (FDOT) to remove immigrants who have entered Florida illegally out of the state and into “sanctuary” communities. While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced and implemented a similar busing program since DeSantis first suggested it, Florida’s program sat unused for more than two months.
Last month, DeSantis told reporters that Florida had not begun its transportation program because the Biden administration had directed fewer migrants to the state than expected. The Governor credited Florida’s program as a deterrent after states like Texas and Arizona acted on their versions of the plan.
DeSantis has long criticized Biden’s border policies, such as ending restrictions from President Donald Trump’s administration. The Associated Press credits Trump with the idea to send migrants to Democratic-led regions.
DeSantis visited the southern border last summer after sending law enforcement officials to the Lone Star State at the request of Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, fellow Republicans. He said he was surprised to learn how many immigrants wish to reach Florida after entering the country illegally.
DeSantis, considered a possible contender for President — along with Abbott — has since made tackling illegal immigration a priority. In June, he signed legislation to prevent transportation companies from doing business with Florida if the companies participate in programs to transport migrants to Florida.
Also Thursday, Abbott confirmed he sent migrants near Vice President Kamala Harris‘ Washington home in buses that arrived that morning.