Who’s being cruel? Pols debate use of migrants as pawns

Who's being cruel? Pols debate use of migrants as pawns

Leaders across the political spectrum agreed Sunday that migrants sent to northern cities from the southern border have been used to make a political point, but differed on the ethics of the issue — and who they said should take the blame.

The spectacle of migrants sent by Republican governors to New York is “a humanitarian crisis created by human hands,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” a view expressed by other Democrats on Sunday.

Adams criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his lack of coordination on the matter with his staff when Abbott sent busloads of migrants from the southern border to New York City.

“Coordination in crisis is something that we must do together,” he said. Adams added on ABC’s “This Week” that he reached out to the Abbott administration to coordinate, without success.

The Republican governor has sent thousands of migrants to New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago over the last few months to call attention to what he sees as an immigration crisis; Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) has also done so, though he hasn’t come in for the same level of criticism because he has worked more closely with other officials.

Joining them last week was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had migrants from Venezuela flown last week from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Migrants were also dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ Washington residence last week.

Republican leaders have said they are merely distributing the burden of those arriving from Venezuela and elsewhere around the nation. For his part, Adams said the lack of coordination is straining his city.

“We should not be really treating other cities and municipalities in the manner we’re witnessing now. We need resources for housing, resources to make sure that we can properly give people … all the basic necessities,” he said.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) defended Abbott and DeSantis on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, even as he concurred that their moves were political.

“They’re doing their best to try to send a message to the rest of the nation about the plight of those individuals that are coming from south of the border,” Rounds said to host Jake Tapper.

In response to a question from Tapper about the ethics of using people, including children, to make a political point, Rounds said, “You have to put it in perspective of what’s happening at the southern border right now. This is every single day, thousands of individuals coming across with babies.”

Joe O’Dea, the Republican nominee for Senate in Colorado, took a similar perspective Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“People call what he did cruel. You know, what’s cruel is ignoring this issue. Democrats are ignoring it,” O’Dea said of DeSantis.

Migrants who have been transported by Republican governors have reportedly been misled about where they are going and why; Adams said that was true of those who have arrived in New York. Some of the arrivals were also dehydrated, Covid-positive or without proper food, he said.

“This is a blight on our entire country,” Adams said of the Republican leaders’ actions. He rejected the idea that New York would change a “right to shelter” law in response to the crisis, though he said the implementation of the law may need to be altered.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the moves by Abbott and DeSantis “pathetic.”

“These governors are taking advantage of these helpless people, making promises to them to get on the bus and life is just going to be fine. … Why is it when the Republicans want to enforce their immigration theories, it’s always the kids that end up being the victims?” Durbin said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Former President Bill Clinton also weighed in Sunday: The community of Martha’s Vineyard — the elite vacation spot where DeSantis sent migrants by plane this week with little warning — has a history of acceptance, he said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“It was also the first place that welcomed Black professionals and business people from the South to come and live on equal terms. … I don’t know what Massachusetts is going to do, but I bet that they will make those people feel at home,” Clinton said.

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