It’s a given that this new GOP governor (with presidential ambitions) tactic of shipping migrants and asylum-seekers to symbolic “liberal” parts of the country as a sort of “own-the-libs” performance art is gross, degrading and the kind of thing that awful people do. That’s a given. But I’m very curious about this latest stunt by Ron DeSantis. First of all, Martha’s Vineyard? Again, it’s using these scared and generally helpless people as a stunt guffaw. But is this legal? In some cases migrants might be perfectly happy to be transported from Texas to New York. Maybe they have relatives there. Maybe the social climate seems more inviting. Who knows? But there’s news coming out today that these people shipped to Martha’s Vineyard were told they were being sent to Boston to get special job permits.
Immigrants and refugees, as we know, have very few rights. And even more the rights they do have are seldom enforced or vindicated. But if you transport someone across state lines under false pretenses that can certainly edge up against laws about kidnapping or trafficking. All the more if you’re using coercion.
Obviously the immigration service can transport people, incarcerate them, do all sorts of things. But that’s ICE, which whether we like it or not has various statutory powers to do these things. But these stunts aren’t ICE, even if ICE may be looking the other way. This is the political machinery of the state of Florida and they’re using private transport. So I’m curious if this is even legal.