1. Martha’s Vineyard
I can’t tell if the evidence emerging about what Ron DeSantis did to lure a group of asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard is going to help him or hurt him.
Let’s start with the bare fact that this episode has not unspooled the way DeSantis hoped.
For starters, the people in Martha’s Vineyard didn’t freak out. They welcomed the refugees and took care of them.
And then the backstory started to emerge:
These migrants were not in the United States illegally. They were in the process of making asylum claims, having fled from a Communist regime that DeSantis himself says “is responsible for countless atrocities.”
Which has lead people to ask, How did these migrants wind up on those planes?
The answers to which seem to be that they were lured with a premeditated campaign of deception.
Yesterday, Judd Legum got hold of a document the migrants were given by DeSantis’s agents. Have a look:
This is not a formal government pamphlet. It’s a Mickey Mouse attempt to trick this group of migrants.
Everything about this feels like something that got cobbled together by the Hillsdale College Republicans: Stock image of “Massachusetts Welcomes You” sign? Check. Establishing shot of a lighthouse? Check. Thick header and footer bars straight from a design template? Check. Massachusetts flag? Well, okay, whoever built this grabbed the wrong flag from Google:
But whatever. They tried. It almost looks official.
Except that the content is a lie. The services and benefits described do not apply to this group of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Here’s Judd Legum, again:
The benefits described in the brochure are resettlement benefits available to refugees who have been referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and authorized to live in the United States. These benefits are not available in Massachusetts to the migrants who boarded the flights, who are still in the process of seeking asylum.
Initially, DeSantis claimed that there had been no deception. The DeSantis administration now admits that they created this document and provided it to the migrants. The new line of defense seems to be something to the effect of: Nothing in the brochure is technically untrue. Even if it didn’t apply to this group of migrants, then it could apply to other groups. Therefore, there was no actual lying going on and we are gtg for more.
So the question is: Will this work?
I’m of two minds on the political tenability of DeSantis’s position.
(1) It works. Some reasons: