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FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 26, 2022

Election-year drama: Florida governor draws attention by sending asylum seekers to Massachusetts

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Summarize an update on this overall issue.
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Share a quote from an editorial or opinion column about immigration.
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Read about another national policy topic and tell two things you learn.

A multi-state drama this month shows the strains of an immigration backlog as thousands of migrants fleeing persecution and economic instability in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba apply for legal asylum here. It also illustrates how easily they can be swept up in election year politics. Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, grabbed headlines by chartering two jets to fly 48 South American asylum applicants from Texas to the small Massachusetts resort island of Martha's Vineyard on Sept. 14. DeSantis, running for a second term, assumed they'd be unwelcome, though officials, clergy members and residents hosted the surprise arrivals with food, shelter and friendliness until the National Guard moved them to a military base near Boston.

Separately, eight Venezuelan migrants were flown from Texas to California's capital city. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas earlier this year bused migrants released from federal immigration custody to Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago. And in May, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also began transporting migrants to the national capital.

CNN says the stunts are part of "a strategy from Republican state officials to commandeer the course of national immigration policy." Immigration advocates, the Biden administration and other Democrats say transporting migrants is dehumanizing. Presidential press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the actions "cruel" and said at the White House: "There's a legal way of doing this and for managing migrants. Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants as political pawns, is, is shameful, is reckless, and just plain wrong."

A civil rights law firm last week filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis and others for transporting asylum applicants from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard without arrangements in place. The Florida governor's communications director accused critics of using "illegal immigrants for political theater." She added: "The immigrants were homeless, hungry and abandoned – and these activists didn't care about them then. Florida's program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts." But even Jared Kushner, son-in-law of Donald Trump, criticized the stunt. "We have to remember that these are human beings, they're people, so seeing them being used as political pawns is very troubling to me," he said on Fox News last week.

Gov. DeSantis says: "We take what's happening at the southern border very seriously, unlike some — unlike the president of the United States, who has refused to lift a finger to secure that border."

Congressman says: "The Department of Justice needs to investigate Governor DeSantis for using fraud and deception to lure people out of state only to abandon them without fulfilling his false promises. Same for Greg Abbott. They're engaging in human trafficking." – Joaquin Castro, D-Texas

Columnist says: "We don't just need immigrants to fill jobs — we also need their ambition, entrepreneurialism, work ethic, cultural creativity, strong family values and non-entitled attitudes." – Brett Stephens, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2022

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