Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a shot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during an appearance Monday morning, criticizing his decision last week to fly nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard in an effort to send a message about the immigration problems facing his state.
"Migrants are people, not props," she said to a crowd at a New England Council breakfast. "I am always proud to be a senator from Massachusetts, but never more so than in the past week."
Besides, Warren said, it's not like Massachusetts hasn't been dealing with migrants all along.
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"We have to remember that people have been arriving here -- particularly in the Boston area generally -- for quite a while now," she said. "They didn't arrive on a charter plane paid for by the taxpayers of Florida and as part of a publicity stunt by their governor, but they have been arriving in twos and threes and fours, and Massachusetts has done what Massachusetts always does -- we've stepped up and we've provided help."
Warren said her role is to be a good federal partner. To that end, she said she spent a lot of time over the past weekend speaking with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas "to see how we can be helpful to all of those who are here." She said she's also been talking with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about adding resources to the budget for emergency food and shelter that is used by migrants in Massachusetts and across the country and with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and other local officials about what's happening on the ground and what they need.
"Our public officials, our charities, just individuals step up in Massachusetts," she said. "That's what we do. And we treat all people with basic dignity, with humanity, and we say that here in Massachusetts, we don't want anyone to be hungry, we don't want anyone to be unhoused, and we will reach out together to make sure that's the case."
DeSantis drew applause from many Republicans and scorn from Democrats and some moderate Republicans like Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker after he claimed responsibility for flying two charter planes filled with migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard last Wednesday. The migrants were moved two days later to Joint Base Cape Cod, as officials said the island wasn't equipped to provide them with ongoing food and shelter.
DeSantis spoke over the weekend during a campaign rally in Kansas for a candidate for governor, during which time he highlighted Martha's Vineyard's jobs and lodging availability and touted its wealth.
“They were given, basically, a lottery ticket to get to the wealthiest jurisdiction in the country,” he said of the migrants flown to the island. “Did they get them employed? Did they get them set up? No. They called the National Guard and they deported those people off the island the very next day.”
Baker called on 125 National Guard members to help with relief efforts. But his office said they did not have a hand in the removal of the migrants from Martha’s Vineyard.
Speaking on Sunday, Baker did not respond directly to DeSantis, instead calling on Congress to fix what he called a broken system.
“Washington needs to do its job, and its job is to come up with an immigration policy that’s enforceable, that works, and that people understand,” he said.