DeSantis drew on the playbook of fellow Republican, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, surprising Democratic strongholds with large influxes of migrants and providing little or no information.
“They were told they would have a job and they would have a place to live,” said Elizabeth Folcarelli, who runs community services for Martha’s Vineyard and described the rush for shelter as a “tremendous challenge”.
Julio Henriquez, a lawyer who met several migrants, said they “had no idea where they were going or where they were”.
Two flights to Martha’s Vineyard stopped in the Florida Panhandle, Henriquez said. On board, the migrants received brochures and maps of Massachusetts.
An unsigned letter told migrants to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of address changes, though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is actually responsible for tracking migrants, Henriquez said. “That’s terrible advice,” he said.
Many immigrants have an appointment with ICE on Monday in San Antonio. Others were ordered to report to immigration authorities within two weeks to three months in cities like Philadelphia and Washington.
U.S. officials told immigration attorneys the required records would be delayed, Henriquez said. Homeland Security officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In San Antonio, a Latino woman approached migrants at a city-run shelter and put them up at a nearby La Quinta Inn, where she went daily with food and gift cards, Henriquez said. She promised jobs and three months of housing in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
The woman, who introduced herself to migrants as Perla, promised jobs, housing and support with their immigration cases, said Oren Sellstrom of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which offered free consultations.
The city of San Antonio was unaware of the thefts, said deputy city manager Maria Villagomez.
Pedro Luis Torrelaba, 36, said he was promised work, food and accommodation. He thought he was going to New York.
“I am not a victim,” he said Friday, expressing his gratitude to the people of Martha’s Vineyard for their hospitality. “I just feel cheated because they told a lie and it came to nothing.”
The migrants were voluntarily moved Friday to a military base near Cape Cod. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he would activate up to 125 members of the National Guard to help the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
DeSantis said Friday that most of the migrants intended to come to Florida and that the trip to Martha’s Vineyard was voluntary. He did not respond to migrants’ claims that they had been told they were going elsewhere.
Florida’s governor has defended the handling of migrants in Texas and pledged to continue transportation to immigrant-friendly “sanctuary” jurisdictions.
“Our view is that you have to deal with it at the source, and if they’re going to come to Florida or if a lot of them are going to come to Florida, that’s our best way. to make sure they end up in a sanctuary,” he says.
Arizona has bussed more than 1,800 migrants to Washington since May, but has kept recipient officials informed of the plans. The city of El Paso, Texas has sent at least 1,135 migrants on 28 buses to New York since Aug. 23 and, like Arizona, is sharing passenger lists and other information.
Last week, a 2-year-old child who arrived in New York from Texas was hospitalized with dehydration and a pregnant woman on the same bus was in severe pain, according to attorneys and city officials.
Volunteer groups often wait hours for buses arriving from Texas in a designated space at Manhattan’s Port of Authority bus terminal. They rely on tipsters for help.
“It’s a problem because we don’t know when the buses are coming, how many buses are coming, if anyone on those buses has any health issues that they will need help with, if they need a wheelchair,” said Manuel Castro, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs. “We want to at least know that so we can best help people when they arrive.”
A contractor Texas hired to bus the migrants signed an agreement that prohibits them from speaking to New York officials, Castro said.
Some fathers arrived in New York while their wives and children were sent to Washington, said Ilze Thielmann, volunteer director of TLC NYC, a group that works to reunite them.
Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said his administration contacted Texas but was getting no information. The first migrants arrived at Union Station in Chicago from Texas on August 31.
Abbott’s office dismissed complaints about a lack of coordination and leaving cities guessing at the governor’s next steps as he tries to stoke opposition to President Joe Biden’s border policies.
“Instead of complaining about keeping their sanctuary city promises, these hypocritical Democrats should be calling on President Biden to do his job and secure the border — something the president continues to fail to do,” the spokeswoman said Thursday. Renee Eze.
Arizona has been working since May through the Regional Center for Borders Health, which operates clinics for low-income patients in Yuma. Several days a week, a bus heads east from a clinic office in suburban Somerton.
Amanda Aguirre, CEO of the health care provider, said she told Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s staff that she would not participate without close coordination. Arizona established information-sharing protocols early on with Carecen, a nonprofit group that helps migrants in Washington, Aguirre said.
“I will never allow people to just be thrown out on the street because that’s what I’m trying to prevent here in Yuma, from just being thrown out in the street,” Aguirre said.
Some migrants seem unaffected by the chaos.
Clever Rodriguez from Venezuela said he appreciated the free ride from Texas to New York, where he had come to look for work.
“I have no opinion because at least they helped me get here,” Rodriguez, 24, said as he left a shelter.
Salomon reported from Miami and Torrens from New York. Associated Press writers Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Fla.; Elliot Spagat in Somerton, Arizona; Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.