Hiltzik: The bad story behind the GOP migrant transports

Almost the only thing that can be said about Republican governor-sponsored migrant transport to the south is that the picture is sure to get uglier as more facts emerge.

GOP governors Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona sponsored the bus and plane transfers of migrants from their states to northern jurisdictions, including New York; Washington DC .; and (famously) the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

When the governors of the southern border states or the governor of Florida load the spring buses or plane loads of migrants who have just arrived in other states, they are violating the very point of the union created by the United States Constitution.

– Heidi Li Feldman, Georgetown Law

Let’s briefly recap a lot of what has already been reported.

The right-wing press has called the passengers “illegal immigrants”, but in many, if not most cases, they are asylum seekers who have completed the initial phase of their treatment by scheduling a hearing, taking fingerprints and checking previous. Pending their hearings, they are legally in the United States.

Numerous reports indicate that some have been scammed into boarding transport with promises of jobs and services for immigrants and misled about their destinations. To accomplish her purposes, DeSantis and her minions apparently employed a dark character who identified himself as “Pearl” and promised Texas migrants jobs and payments in Massachusetts before she disappeared into the fog. In any case, no one has found it yet.

Transportation prevented some from attending scheduled hearings or other procedures; Federal officials have suspended their treatment until their transfers are resolved.

“They are not illegal aliens,” immigration lawyer Taylor Levy told the immigration law podcast “Redirect”. “They have been processed, they are in the system, they have upcoming court dates.”

DeSantis in particular may have embezzled state funds he acknowledged he spent on flights to Martha’s Vineyard. The state budget has allocated the $ 12 million fund in question to facilitate “the transfer of unauthorized foreigners out of state”.

The flights, however, came from San Antonio, Texas. DeSantis defended the spending, weakly, stating that the migrants would likely end up in Florida eventually.

The lessons of this practice are highly instructive. They provide a window into how the GOP will govern if it gains control over the federal government: with ruthless ruthlessness that pushes the boundaries of sadism, directed at the most vulnerable men, women and children who fall into their grasp.

They won’t offer substantive solutions to the problems America faces, only performative patterns that make those problems worse.

The Republican base seems to think this situation is fun. They are enjoying what they see as the despair of authorities in destinations forced to scramble to bring care and services to passengers. It doesn’t matter that the authorities are scrambling because they are trying to bring care and services to innocent people used as political pawns.

There is more, much more. But it is appropriate first to examine the historical antecedents of these transports.

They include the “Reverse Freedom Rides” of the 1960s, when White Citizens’ Councils in the south placed black families on buses and sent them north, a pushback against the Freedom Riders who were coming south to help black residents register. to vote. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library helpfully published a 1963 newspaper article describing the experience of a black family from Shreveport, La., Sent by bus to Trenton, NJ.

When it comes to lying to vulnerable people to persuade them to take actions contrary to their interests, this is a technique perfected by Nazi Germany. The Nazis persuaded Jews to enter the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers by telling them that the facilities were for pest control.

What is even more evocative of the Nazi practice in migrant transport is the GOP’s effort to dehumanize its victims. DeSantis and other Republicans deprived the passengers of their humanity by treating them as mere cargo.

“These are human beings,” Levy said. “It shouldn’t be talked about as if it were ‘shipped’.”

Transportation seems to have stretched the critical faculties of the media to the breaking point. It is treated purely political as a battle between the major parties in the conventional model “Republicans say this, but Democrats say that”; CBS tweeted that transportation is what “critics call a political stunt” and called transportation “controversial”.

This is an extraordinarily cowardly way of framing the case. Transportation has been flatly condemned by immigration experts, legal authorities and ordinary citizens, not just democrats. They are not a “stunt” when the lives of innocent human beings are at stake.

Transportation advocates say DeSantis, Abbott and Ducey are simply trying in good faith to point out the Democratic administration’s inability to address the immigration issue.

We know this is a lie. How can we tell? Simply by examining how Republicans handled the immigration issue when it was entirely in their power to address it. In 2017-2018, for example, the GOP controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House.

What did the Republicans do about immigration then? They crouched down. A bill conceived as a compromise within the Republican majorities failed spectacularly in the House and immigration reform was dead.

In 2006, Republicans controlled the House and Senate and George W. Bush reigned in the White House. That May, the Senate passed the 2006 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which would improve border security with new fences while implementing a guest worker policy, among other reforms. The house even refused to take the measurement and it died.

In 2013, when Democrats controlled the Senate and the White House and Republicans the House, a bipartisan group of senators called the “gang of eight” – four from each party – came up with a compromise measure on immigration that went through the Senate.

Then one of the members of the “gang”, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Abandoned his measure, thus cementing his stature of the rarest of God’s creatures, a human invertebrate. The measure died in the Republican-controlled Chamber.

This whole story seems to have disappeared into the memory hole. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) went to Fox News on Friday to “commend” the governor. Abbott for sending immigrants north e inviting GOP governors to send 500,000 more. Cruz has been in the Senate since 2013. What did he do at that time to address the issue? Asking the question is answering.

Nothing prevents Republican governors from addressing what they call the immigration crisis in a humanitarian way, rather than acting like sociopaths.

They sent buses and planes north without making significant efforts to notify the destination authorities of the arrival of passengers. The two planes sent by DeSantis to Martha’s Vineyard arrived without warning.

Washington, DC, has created a large infrastructure of services for immigrants. Instead of instructing bus drivers to drop off their passengers in places where they could access such services, Abbott staff instructed them to drop them off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence on the edge of the suburbs.

Boston also has well-developed systems for serving immigrants. The city’s immigration court, which judges issues such as asylum applications, is the fifth most active in the country.

Air DeSantis, however, dropped its passengers unannounced at Martha’s Vineyard, which is miles from Boston and inaccessible except by ferry or plane. Passengers were given brochures that appeared to be official Massachusetts Immigrant Services guides, but which were filled with what experts say was inaccurate or misleading information.

Immigration authorities say the claims in the brochures that immigrants in Massachusetts can receive “up to 8 months of cash assistance” and other benefits do not apply to migrants who have entered the asylum process.

Despite claims by southern governors that their states are the only ones to bear the brunt of migrants at the border, the truth is that only two of the 10 most active immigration courts are located in the southern border states: those of Dallas and San Francisco. (DeSantis’ claim that his state is a border state is undermined by the fact that he had to go to Texas to find passengers for his migrant flights.)


Part of a booklet handed to migrants on a flight from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard includes what experts say are lies and misrepresentations about what passengers might expect upon landing.

(Judd Legum, popular.info)

The legal implications of the governors’ policies remain to be defined. It is unclear whether they are involved in illegal trafficking: the issue may depend on the legal status of the passengers and how they were persuaded to board buses and planes. But it is clear that the governors’ transportation has interfered with some of the passenger immigration processes by taking them too far from their homes to meet court schedules.

The apparent illegality of the southern governors goes beyond the treatment of passengers. “There are various legal mechanisms to ensure that states coordinate and cooperate with each other,” Heidi Li Feldman, an expert on immigration practices at Georgetown Law, observed via Twitter. These are provided for in the United States Constitution, in the form of interstate pacts – essentially treaties between states that must be approved by Congress.

There are two hundred pacts. Some bind all 50 states to recognize the mutual rights of their citizens, for example by recognizing their respective driving licenses or adoption rules or educational credentials. Some involve only two or three states. Westerners benefit from the seven-state pact reached in 1922 on the sharing of the waters of the Colorado River, which established the ground rules for the construction of the Hoover Dam.

“When the governors of the southern border states or the governor of Florida load spring buses or fly loads of migrants who have just arrived in other states,” Feldman notes, “they are against the very point of the union created by the Constitution of United States. … They are literally trying to ambush the governments of their sister states. “

There is nothing funny about this behavior. Nothing in it will lead to sensitive, much less sensitive, reforms of immigration policies. None of this makes its perpetrators look like humans.

To quote the most famous rebuke to a self-righteous politician of our time, Joseph Welch’s rebuke to Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) During the Army-McCarthy hearings on June 9, 1954, we addressed it to each of these governors: ” Don’t you have a sense of decency, sir, finally? Didn’t you leave any sense of decency? “

McCarthy answered Welch’s question with a long, embarrassed silence. This is the only answer DeSantis, Abbott and Ducey could have to offer.