Washington, DC – Despite his desire for the national spotlight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has yet to provide some key answers to important questions related to hurricane recovery, immigrants and Latinos in his state:
- Question One: Will immigrant workers helping Florida recover from Hurricane Ian be welcomed? You spent the last several months planning and executing a complicated and expensive plan to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts to make a political point. Now, we’re seeing reports that migrants are being encouraged to come to Florida to help the rebuilding process. We also know that immigrant workers, including undocumented workers, play an outsized role in hurricane and climate disaster recovery and reconstruction, including in past hurricanes that have hit Florida. Will these workers be welcomed – or are you telling them not to come to Florida?
- Question Two: At a time when Florida businesses need more workers, why are you shipping asylum seekers out of state and cracking down on immigrants willing to work? The need for immigrant workers in disaster recovery efforts is on top of Florida’s broader need for additional workers. Jan Gautam, President and CEO of Interessant Hotels & Resort Management in Orlando, told CNN after the DeSantis stunt to ship Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard, “It’s very tough to find employees … Why are they sending them there when we need the people here. We could utilize them … These people are here. They can start working and they can actually start supporting their families. And of course, help us out.” Jessica Cooper, owner of Sugar Top Farms near Orlando, stated: “We have a massive labor shortage in Florida in basically every industry here. It’s hard to watch willing workers leave your state with tax dollars.”
- Question Three: Given your criticism of the oppressive government in Venezuela, why not welcome those fleeing Venezuela – like most voters strongly support – instead of shipping them out of state? The Republican efforts to make inroads with Latino voters and express support for those fleeing “oppressive environments,” such as in Venezuela, is directly at odds with the dehumanizing stunt perpetrated by Ron DeSantis and others trying to inject immigration back into the headlines and stoke the MAGA base crowd. Of note, a strong majority of voters support welcoming Venezuelans including 7-in-10 Hispanic voters. A Civiqs poll of more than 3,000 voters nationwide, conducted for The Immigration Hub, finds strong support that “people who are fleeing Venezuela and other communist regimes to seek safety in the United States should be allowed to legally request protection” – 63% of voters, including 57% of Independents and a 41% plurality of Republican voters, agree. Additionally, 69% of Hispanic voters polled believe that people who are fleeing Venezuela and other communist regimes to seek safety in the United States should be allowed to legally request protection and 65% believe that DeSantis’ engaged in a “political stunt” in flying Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard.
- Question Four: Do you defend the use of Florida taxpayer funds for the Martha’s Vineyard stunt? And what is the real story behind Perla Huerta and the GOP-connected charter flight operators involved? Investigations from the New York Times and other outlets report that Perla Huerta, a former military counterintelligence officer now living in Tampa, played a key role in recruiting, misleading, falsifying documents and sending Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard. As a Boston Globe editorial notes, “Which prosecutor will begin to unravel the real story, not just of how 48 human beings got to be flown more than 2,000 miles to be used as stage props in a political campaign for Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, but whether laws — state and federal — might have been broken in the process.” Additionally, the Times revealed that the company operating the charter flights – Vertol Systems – “has increasingly networked with Republican power brokers in Florida.” Gov. DeSantis needs to start providing real answers.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
“Gov. DeSantis’ overreach is already hurting his brand with Latino voters not just in Florida but nationwide. Turning his back on asylum seekers and using them as political pawns is another low for DeSantis and at odds with the Venezuelan community and others who support those escaping violence and oppression. Ahead of an extremely important election where the Governor is clearly more focused on his national ambitions than the needs of Floridians, it is vital that voters get straight answers from him on these critical questions.”