When I first heard about the charter flights of illegal aliens/asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, it struck me as a remarkable bit of political theater. I have been in or near the public relations business for most of my life, but I never imagined such an event.
Although, unlike most of my colleagues here at CIS, I have a dim view of Governor DeSantis, it struck me as a highly creative move to bring attention, in the North, to the flood of lawless migrants in the South.
I was not, and am not, particularly moved by reports that the 48 migrants were “misled”. If I were a homeless migrant with no legal papers, I would far rather be one of a small group of them on a rich island in a liberal state than one of a flood of them in a poor city in a conservative state.
I also was touched by a bit of envy — I would love to have someone buy me a ticket to that lovely get-away of the rich. I have never been there.
My initial impression was that the 48 were from Florida. Why else would Governor DeSantis be moving them around? And I assumed that some private or maybe campaign funds covered the costs.
I was wrong on both points. The migrants were recruited in, and flown from, San Antonio, which is near the Tex-Mex border, and the money to pay for the charter — some $615,000 — was Florida funds derived from federal moneys that were meant to handle Covid-19 costs.
With 48 on the charter, the unit cost was about $12,000 each; in comparison, a one-way, first-class ticket from San Antonio to Boston is about $1,000. According to Google, it could be as little as $80 on some low-cost airlines.
Thus, the gesture was an expensive one and some charter airline tucked away a nice profit.
Somebody is suing the Florida government for spending Covid money on a non-Covid population that was only briefly in Florida (the plane touched down there before continuing north), and for a service (the flight) that did not involve Florida. The non-lawyer that I am thinks that they may well win.
Though possibly illegal, and certainly expensive, it was an interesting maneuver.