Members of Massachusetts' all-Democratic Congressional delegation are sounding off on Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' controversial move to fly dozens of Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard as part of what they are calling a "cruel stunt" aimed at bolstering his potential presidential campaign.
Rep. William Keating, whose district includes Martha's Vineyard, was the first to speak out, saying on Twitter Wednesday night
"History does not look kindly on leaders who treat human beings like cargo, loading them up and sending them a thousand miles away without telling them their destination," he said. "Still, Florida @GovRonDeSantis made that choice today."
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
He went on to applaud the Martha's Vineyard community and the state for calling DeSantis' bluff "and rising to meet the challenge." He praised Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for moving to assist the migrants, saying he is disgusted by DeSantis' decision "to prioritize cruelty & chaos over human dignity" in a "taxpayer-funded stunt."
Sen. Ed Markey also weighed in overnight, saying DeSantis "could learn a lesson from Massachusetts on what patriotism and liberty really look like if he weren't so busy using humans as props in a cruel stunt to buoy his pathetic political aspirations."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the exploitation of "vulnerable people for political stunts ... repulsive and cruel," in a statement Thursday afternoon, and said she spoke with the secretary of Homeland Security about what kind of federal resources could be used to help.
"In the spirit of selflessness and humanity that has long defined who we are as a Commonwealth, Islanders and people across Massachusetts have joined together to assist migrants that have arrived. I am grateful to these community leaders. This is something we can do – work together, remember our values, put aside the politics and support the people who need our help," Warren said.
Congressman Seth Moulton took things a step further in a tweet Thursday morning, saying "DeSantis is playing politics with people's lives and now he's involving Massachusetts. If he can't handle his responsibilities as governor of Florida, he should step down."
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said "Massachusetts will warmly accept migrants who need shelter, beds, a warm meal & child support. We'll treat them with dignity & respect, not cruelly like DeSantis. He's become the face of a party that's not only selfish & mean but morally bankrupt as well."
Emergency shelters were opened Wednesday night on the island of Martha's Vineyard following the unannounced arrival of at least two planes with undocumented immigrants, according to local officials.
A representative from DeSantis' office told NBC10 Boston that two planes had come from his state. According to the Boston Globe, the migrants are from Venezuela and there are about 50 of them in all.
DeSantis' move is an escalation of a tactic being used by some Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies.
Martha's Vineyard officials, social services and community members quickly set up a shelter at an Edgartown church, complete with beds, food, water, medical care and even a play area for children Wednesday night. The county emergency management association tweeted Wednesday evening it would create emergency shelters "due to an unexpected urgent #humanitarian situation," county officials said.