(Reuters) – A group of immigrants landed on the wealthy Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard on Wednesday, part of a campaign by Republican governors to shift the immigration burden to Democratic areas.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis took credit for the arrival of two planes of immigrants, one spokeswoman told Fox News and a second said on Twitter, though a Massachusetts state representative said immigrants had arrived from Texas.
"Yes, Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha's Vineyard today were part of the state's relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations," Taryn Fenske, communications director for Governor Ron DeSantis, told Fox News Digital.
The website showed video of people getting off a plane and boarding a van. It said the video depicted the immigrants who had been sent from Florida.
Border states Texas and Arizona have sent thousands of immigrants to cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington. They say Democratic areas should take more immigrants because they have encouraged immigration by failing to fully enforce immigration laws.
Martha's Vineyard is distinct in that it is a summer vacation destination and farm area with a year-round population of only 20,000.
"Martha's Vineyard residents should be thrilled about this. They vote for sanctuary cities—they get a sanctuary city of their own. And illegal aliens will increase the town's diversity, which is strength. Right?," Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis' reelection campaign, said on Twitter.
"Sanctuary cities" refers to states and localities that do not comply with the strictest federal immigration policies, including those put forth under former president Donald Trump.
Massachusetts state representative Dylan Fernandes said on Twitter that immigrants had arrived without warning from Texas.
"Currently immigrants are being dropped off on Martha's Vineyard by chartered flights from Texas. Many don't know where they are. They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs. Islanders were given no notice but are coming together as a community to support them," Fernandes, a Democrat who represents Martha's Vineyard, said on Twitter.
States cannot compel immigrants to move, so their consent is needed. Some accept because the journey takes them closer to their intended destinations, although a report on MassLive.com on Wednesday said many Venezuelan and Colombian immigrants who had arrived in Martha's Vineyard were unaware of where they had landed.
Last week, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public emergency over buses of migrants sent from Texas and Arizona.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Heather Timmons and Bradley Perrett)