ORLANDO, Fla. – Faith leaders held a news conference Friday in Orlando to speak out against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after two airplanes carrying immigrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard.
The migrants, predominately Venezuelan, were taken to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on flights organized by Florida. Members of the American Business Immigration Coalition Action, Casa de Venezuela Orlando, the HOPE CommUnity Center and the Florida Immigrant Coalition joined Florida-based faith leaders for the news conference at Iglesia Episcopal Jesus de Nazaret.
Samuel Vilchez Santiago, state director of the American Business Immigration Coalition Action, called the move “morally repugnant” and “economically unreasonable.”
“The reality is that through our Florida history, immigrants have helped to build our economy, our businesses and our communities. And that’s it. Point blank period. Immigrants helped build Orlando, immigrants helped build the state of Florida and we need to make sure that we’re recognizing that they’re coming here to work,” he said.
DeSantis said the flights to Martha’s Vineyard were part of an effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.” The Florida Legislature has earmarked $12 million to transport “unauthorized aliens” out of state.
“Our message to them is that we are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Niceville.
News 6 confirmed with aviation officials at Martha’s Vineyard that the planes took off from Texas and stopped in Crestview, Florida. They spent about 40 minutes there before one aircraft went to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the other to Charlotte, North Carolina, before both arrived in Massachusetts.
Friday’s news conference comes a day after leaders in South Florida’s Venezuelan-American community gathered to denounce the governor’s actions. News 6 partner WPLG-TV said the news conference happened in Doral, home to a large Venezuelan-American population.
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