Martha’s Vineyard Residents: Better Leaders than Gov. DeSantis


Gov. DeSantis funded two flights to deliver migrants from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Evan McManus, Contributing Writer

Governor Ron DeSantis’ recent action in Martha’s Vineyard was a ridiculous political stunt which did nothing to solve the migration crisis. The Florida governor paid for two flights to deliver migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Many of the migrants have told the media that they had been misled by a woman named Perla, who told them that they were going to be flown to Boston where they would receive help and work papers. Instead of ending up in a major city, they were flown to a small island during the off season. The expectations of work and housing that “Perla” promised were nowhere to be seen. The migrants had been tricked just to serve as pawns in DeSantis’ antics. 

It seems odd that the governor of a state that does not border Mexico is so interested in the southern border. There has been a large uptick in migrants traveling from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua who are allowed to stay in the country by claiming political asylum. DeSantis is interested in this migration because it represents a culture war and it can be exploited in order to be viewed more favorably among right wing Americans. 

Right-wing pundits have constructed a narrative that American towns on the southern border are overflowing and stretched thin by migrants from Latin America. They argue that large liberal cities are removed from this issue, which explains their more welcoming position, and that liberal cities should try receiving some share of the migrants. While this argument might make sense in some ways, the intentions behind this mindset are not good. This narrative’s purpose is not to help the migrants that have arrived in America, but instead further divide Americans on what should be done about the issue of immigration. This has happened here in New York, with many migrants being bused to the city from Texas, an occurrence that has been focused on by right-wing media as a liberal hypocrisy. 

Some may wonder why the governor would group Martha’s Vineyard into the same category as New York City. However, it begins to make sense once you look into who lives and vacations there. In the 2020 election, 77% of the island’s residents voted for President Joe Biden. Many famous Democrats vacation there in the summertime, including former President Barack Obama, who owns a house on the island. DeSantis saw this island as the perfect template for promoting his message of liberal elites being removed from the problems of the nation. He wanted the arrival of the migrants to throw the island into confusion so the stunt could be used as an example of liberals’ hypocrisy. However, the citizens of Martha’s Vineyard stepped up. Officials on the island had no heads up about the migrant’s arrival, but citizens came together and found 50 beds for migrants to sleep in and plenty of food for them to eat. Instead of the islanders coming off as the entitled rich liberals talked about on Fox News, they showed a generous community giving from the heart.  

In that moment, the citizens of Martha’s Vineyard displayed a crucial trait that DeSantis lacks: leadership. A good leader needs to care about the people under their watch. Once the migrants stepped onto the plane, they were under DeSantis’ responsibility, and he immediately passed that responsibility to the residents of Martha’s Vineyard. 

When faced with a crisis, a good leader communicates and collaborates with other leaders. One way of doing this could have been contacting the federal government and other state leaders to work together to find shelter for the migrants. Instead, Desantis did not even pick up the phone. He only thought of this situation on one simple level: a political stunt he could exploit for his reelection campaign and possible 2024 presidential run. 

DeSantis is so absorbed in himself that he might not have even pondered what his own citizens would think about his antics. I’m sure many Floridians were pleased to learn that this whole affair cost them around $500,000. His mistreatment of the migrants may also strike a nerve with the many Cuban Americans voters who fled to Florida after the Cuban Revolution. Instead of being concerned about serving the citizens of Florida, Desantis seems more worried about trying to outdo former president Donald Trump in his outspoken anti-immigration stunts. It is a sad day in America when average American citizens in Martha’s Vineyard show more leadership than a sitting governor.

Evan McManus, FCRH ’25, is  a political science major from Dover, Mass.