TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Some of the migrants who were on board the two planes that Florida sent to Martha’s Vineyard this week say they came to America to escape political persecution in Venezuela.
On Friday, two days after they landed at Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants were loaded onto busses and transported to a nearby military base. Local authorities say Joint Base Cape Cod is just a temporary fix – a larger facility where it’s easier to provide food, shelter and essential services.
Reporters in Massachusetts spoke with some of the migrants. A 27-year-old man, who only speaks Spanish, said he entered America through Eagle Pass, Texas before arriving in San Antonio. He says he was taken to a hotel and given food.
“From there, they offer us the trip, whether to Utah, Washington or here, Massachusetts,” the man said in Spanish.
“We arrive to this place,” he added, “I would love to stay here because the people is so nice.”
“They’ve been in Texas identifying people that are trying to come to Florida and then offering them free transportation to sanctuary jurisdiction,” said Gov. DeSantis.
The governor says he’s had a team at the border, and claims they’ve discovered about 40% of migrants want to come to Florida.
“If they get in a car with two other people, there’s no way we’re going to be able to detect that,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Our view is you’ve got to deal with it at the source.”
The governor said the move is meant to prevent undocumented hitchhikers and smugglers from entering the sunshine state.
“We do have hundreds of clients that are in similar situation,” immigration attorney Paul Palacios said.
Palacios is originally from Caracas, Venezuela – what he calls the murder capital of the world.
He came to Florida, legally, as a teenager. Now he’s dedicated his life to helping others escape violence and famine.
Palacios says the migrants likely approached U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents asking for asylum.
“You have to prove that you’ve been persecuted back in your home country,” Palacios said.
He explained the process: There’s a short interview, you’re asked to appear in Immigration Court, you file an asylum claim and then, you get authorization to work while the claim is processed. The final hearing takes anywhere from four to 10 years.
“This is a crisis going on at the border,” Palacios said. “So I understand why the Republican governors are doing this – they find that’s an effective way to raise awareness. That’s why you’re here, when normally wouldn’t be.”