It’s been a week since Gov. Ron DeSantis flew nearly 50 migrants from Texas to Massachusetts, and since the stunt, the Florida Republican hasn’t offered much in the way of a detailed defense. Given the number of legal inquiries surrounding the incident, it’s possible the governor’s attorneys have encouraged him not to talk too much about what transpired.
That said, DeSantis has made some public comments. They just haven’t been especially good comments.
Late last week, for example, reporters asked him why he focused on Texas instead of apprehending migrants in Florida — a state with a large population from Venezuela and other Latin American countries. DeSantis said he had dispatched investigators to Texas — presumably with public funds — where they worked “for months.” In time, they found migrants who were “intending to come to Florida.”
In other words, the Republican and his team lured migrants onto an airplane and flew them to Martha’s Vineyard because they were thinking about traveling to the Sunshine State.
Yesterday, the GOP governor kept talking, referring to a civil lawsuit from his apparent victims as “political theater” — suggesting DeSantis is simultaneously indifferent to morality, legal limits and irony.
But even more striking were the comments he made at a news conference yesterday afternoon. As HuffPost noted, DeSantis was asked anew why he invested resources in Texas instead of starting with migrants in his own state.
“The problem is, we’re not seeing mass movements of them into Florida, so you end up with a car with maybe two,” DeSantis told reporters at a news conference. ... “It’s just coming in onesie, twosies,” he said.
For the record, he really did really refer, out loud and on purpose, to “onesie, twosies.”
But aside from the odd phrasing, the governor’s comments didn’t constitute much of a defense. According to DeSantis, the whole point of his policy is to address Florida’s immigration problem. Except, as DeSantis explained, there is no actual problem: “[W]e’re not seeing mass movements” of people into the Sunshine State.
It’s apparently why the Floridian invested resources in Texas, where Team DeSantis searched for migrants who might possibly have ended up in Florida.
If the Republican expects this to be persuasive, he’s going to be disappointed.
There are asylum seekers in Florida. For reasons the governor hasn’t fully explained, he’s not trying to dump them in Northern communities, at least not right now. Instead, DeSantis’ focus has been on an entirely different state, where his representatives allegedly lied to desperate people in order to lure them onto airplanes as part of an exploitative scheme.