Updated: Oct 31
DORAL, Fla. – A group of Florida Democratic Party leaders and Venezuelan-American activists met on Thursday at El Arepazo restaurant in Doral to condemn the flights of immigrants out of Texas.
Manny Diaz, the chair; Debbie Mucarsel-Powell; and Florida Reps. Dotie Joseph and JC Planas were critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the “actors” involved in the flight to Martha’s Vineyard.
“You are playing with people’s lives,” said Joseph, who was born in Haiti.
Diaz said DeSantis was an “extremist, power-hungry, bully“ and the flights equated to “kidnapping.” He said DeSantis is targeting legal asylum seekers in Texas while allowing the agricultural industry to depend on undocumented migrants in Florida.
“This is typical DeSantis political theater. This is not about policy. He wouldn’t recognize policy if it hit him in the forehead,” Diaz said.
Mucarsel-Powell accused DeSantis of “depravity” while using the pain and trauma of refugees who are seeking asylum to get political points during his “latest cruel political stunt” to appeal to extremists.
“The Republican Party has lost its moral compass,” Diaz said adding, “When they see something that is wrong, that is illegal, that is unAmerican, it doesn’t matter what party you are from. This should not be a partisan issue.”
Planas, a Cuban-American and former Republican legislator, said Republicans want to distract voters from issues such as reproductive rights, open-carry law, cuts to social security, and the increased cost of property insurance.
Liz Alarcón, a Venezuelan-American activist, said the immigrants in the flights were legally seeking asylum in the United States when the Republican operatives manipulated them.
“We are going to remember these actions and the hypocrisy when we go out to vote in November,” Alarcón said.
Adelys Ferro, the president of the Venezuelan-American caucus, said the migrants from the flights were confused, misinformed, and did not understand what happened to them. Others were stuck in hotels after their flights to Delaware were abruptly canceled.
“Stop these horrific games with human beings,” Ferro said.
DeSantis, who is running for reelection against Rep. Charlie Crist, and his spokesperson defended his decision to fly the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.