Jim Elliott

I’ve got to hand it to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for sharing the wealth of the immigrant crisis with Massachusetts, I’m just not sure what to hand him.

A couple of weeks ago, DeSantis had a couple of planeloads of asylum-seeking legal immigrants from Venezuela shipped from a San Antonio, Texas immigrant shelter to exclusive Martha’s Vinyard island off the Massachusetts coast.

Border states like Texas and Arizona shouldn’t have to be the only ones to bear the costs of humanitarian aid to immigrant families some, governors feel, and so it’s appropriate that they transport a portion of their unwelcome charges to liberal locales that profess sympathy for the immigrants. Helping them to do their share, as it were.

By the same token of course, I don’t know why Montana has to bear the full burden of twenty degree below zero winters and want to be the first to propose sending some of that weather south to Florida in chartered fleets of refrigerated trucks.

DeSantis did not, as some have said, use federal Covid money to pay for the charters. He used the interest from the federal Covid money, which is somehow different.

But back to the immigrants. DeSantis apparently had no available Florida immigrants at his disposal so he went to a “Rent-an-Immigrant” outfit in San Antonio, Texas, to get some to fly to Florida so he could then export them to Massachusetts. I guess there may be some immigrants from Cuba in Florida since they are leaving their socialistic island paradise in droves, but Cubans are a pretty important voting block in Florida, so it would seem DeSantis is exercising political caution.

No, the Texas immigrants he picked up in San Antonio were of the Venezuelan variety, with no known political clout in Florida. Or in Venezuela, for that matter because they are fleeing Venezuela’s chaos at a rate exceeded only by people fleeing the Ukraine.

At least one of them made the journey through the Darien Gap, a deadly, treacherous, roadless jungle between Columbia and Panama. The Venezuelans were approached by a woman named Perla who was hired by persons unknown to recruit immigrants. She offered them a shiny brochure about the benefits awaiting them in Massachusetts—these included jobs, housing and, I suppose, a welcome wagon basket—and asked if they would like an all-expense paid trip there.

What did they have to lose, they might have asked themselves, since they had lost everything already. So, according to the Miami Herald, planes were chartered through a company with ties to the DeSantis administration for some $614,000, and fifty eager immigrants were dumped on the liberal island which was, in a word, sucker-punched with no advance notice of their opportunity to do good works for immigrants.

Happily, the people of Martha’s Vinyard did rise to the occasion, unexpected as it was, and helped the immigrants with food, clothing, beds, and legal help.

Well, no good deed goes unpunished, as they say, and even as DeSantis was being cheered for his actions in Florida, he was being sued by the immigrants he had blind-sided, and the Sheriff of Bexar County, Texas - where San Antonio is located - announced he was beginning an investigation because the immigrants had been recruited under false pretenses.

This would have been a pretty good political stunt if it hadn’t involved people. Or deception. Or dishonesty. The humanitarian hypocrisy of the liberal left is there for all to see in the restrictions of where the homeless can and can’t pitch their tents in Portland and San Francisco, and the residents of those same cities refusing to allow high density housing into their neighborhoods for fear of attracting undesirable elements, which words we can translate as “poor.”

But the headline grabbing stunts of DeSantis and Abbott of Texas are not attempts to remedy a serious problem, unless getting votes is a serious problem. Better to work together to make things better, but that doesn’t grab headlines.

You can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit. Politicians should try it sometimes.

Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek.