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What much of the GOP doesn’t get about the Martha’s Vineyard story

One of points of the Martha’s Vineyard stunt was to prove that liberals would reject migrants. That plan failed. Republicans are now pretending it didn’t.


On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for dumping a group of migrants and their families on Martha’s Vineyard. On Friday, the victims of the Floridian’s stunt were taken to a military base for shelter and humanitarian support.

Evidently, Sen. Ted Cruz finds the political circumstances amusing. The Texas Republican published a tweet late last week that read:

“Leftists, hurriedly deleting their tweets saying the Martha’s Vineyard liberals ‘warmly welcomed’ 50 illegal immigrants: ‘Oh crap! They deported them IN 24 HOURS.’”

Before we get to the forest, let’s quickly review some of the trees — because Cruz managed to get literally every detail wrong.

First, “leftists” haven’t had to delete anything. Second, a great many residents of Martha’s Vineyard really did step up to welcome the desperate people Team DeSantis allegedly lied to and exploited. Third, to characterize asylum seekers as “illegal” border crossers is just factually wrong. Fourth, these migrants and their families weren’t “deported,” at least not by any definition that Americans would recognize. And fifth, two days is not 24 hours.

It’s not easy to squeeze five falsehoods into a two-sentence tweet, but the Texas Republican is a special kind of politician.

As notable as the details are, however, it’s the larger context that’s more interesting.

The day that DeSantis’ chartered planes landed on the Massachusetts island, his political operation hinted at one of the motivations behind the stunt: They were going to prove that liberal rhetoric about welcoming migrants was wrong. The proof would come when Martha’s Vineyard residents lashed out at the struggling people the Floridian had dumped in their community.

Those assumptions were quickly discredited when locals rallied to assist the human beings DeSantis exploited as political props.

But in a curious twist, Cruz and other Republicans are still clinging to the discredited initial claim. “See?” they’re effectively arguing. “Look how quickly those rascally libs deported the migrants!”

Reality keeps getting in the way. The migrants and their families were taken to a base on Cape Cod to be cared for because there were no comparable facilities on Martha’s Vineyard. As the NBC affiliate in Boston reported, “Shortly after the arrival of the migrants, Martha’s Vineyard residents joined with local and state officials to create temporary shelter and provide food and other necessities. But [Gov. Charlie] Baker’s administration said the island is not equipped to provide ongoing food and shelter, so transportation was provided on Friday to bring the migrants to the new temporary shelter on Cape Cod.”

To hear Cruz tell it, this proves that conservatives were right all along. This turns reality on its head. Residents of Martha’s Vineyard treated these migrants and their families with dignity and compassion, and they’re now poised to receive additional assistance from the state.

To the extent that DeSantis’ cruel stunt had a political goal, it failed spectacularly. To pretend otherwise is to ignore what actually happened.