A migrant claims to have been paid $200 cash by a mysterious woman called “Perla” to recruit people from a Texas migrant resource center to board a plane to Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed responsibility for two flights that saw around 50 undocumented migrants transported to the upscale Massachusetts island as part of what the Republican official called “a relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.” It follows similar schemes created by fellow conservative governors in Texas and Arizona to move migrants to Democrat-controlled areas in the North in protest of the Biden administration’s border policies.
It appears local authorities in Martha’s Vineyard had not been given advance notice of the migrants’ arrival. On Thursday, the Dukes County Emergency Management Association tweeted that the “unexpected urgent humanitarian situation” had necessitated emergency shelters being opened on Martha’s Vineyard.
WGHN, the area’s local NPR affiliate, reported Friday that the 50 migrants were being transported from the island’s lone shelter to temporary housing at Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay—off Martha’s Vineyard entirely.
Curious details are beginning to emerge about how the migrants came to be on the planes in the first place, with several outlets reporting that the people on the planes were misled about their prospects when they arrived.
One 27-year-old Venezuelan migrant even claims to have been paid money by a mysterious figure to find people outside the migrant resource center in San Antonio to board one of the flights.
The man calling himself simply Emmanuel told the San Antonio Report that a woman known to him only as “Perla” said she wanted to get migrants to “sanctuary states” where more government support would be available to them.
“Perla informed me that in those sanctuary states, the state has the benefits to help migrants,” Emmanuel told the outlet, explaining that he gave Perla the contact information of around 10 other migrants. “I’ve just been the mediator because I like to help people.”
He added that Perla—who told him she was not involved in organizing the flights and simply wanted to help people—said the money she offered to pay Emmanuel to find others came from an “anonymous benefactor,” who was also funding the flights.
A separate report in the Vineyard Gazette included reference to an unnamed migrant saying they had been recruited by a person named Perla to go to Massachusetts, despite having an immigration court date in Los Angeles next week. “I think this is all a ploy to get us to miss our court dates so we get in trouble with the law and they can deport us,” the unnamed migrant said.
Another person relocated to Martha’s Vineyard calling themselves Luis told Reuters that someone named Perla approached them and their family outside the San Antonio immigration center. Luis said Perla put them up in a hotel, but did not tell them her last name or any affiliation, and asked them to sign a liability waiver.
Separately, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday sent two busloads of migrants to be dropped near the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C.
“Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props,” President Biden told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala on Thursday evening. “What they’re doing is simply wrong.”