Bill Cassidy supports migrant transports; blames Biden for similar tactic in Louisiana

Greg Hilburn
Monroe News-Star

Republican U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy said he supports relocating migrants from border states to liberal enclaves like New York and Martha's Vineyard to send a message to Democratic President Biden and other politicians he believes have allowed unfettered illegal access to America, accusing the president of doing the same thing to Louisiana.

"In terms of making people in other states confront reality I think it's a good idea in the long term," Cassidy said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "If it's the only way to wake up national politicians (it's necessary)."

Last week's spectacle of transporting 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on chartered jets paid for with Florida taxpayers' money by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis escalated the feud between some Republican governors and Biden over immigration policy.

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Since April, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey spent millions sending migrants by bus to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., cities referred to "sanctuary destinations" by DeSantis' spokesperson.

Biden condemned DeSantis' action as "playing politics with human beings, using them as props."

It's legal for states to transport migrants to other states as long as the migrants agree, but some of those sent to Martha's Vineyard told reporters they were enticed with unmet promises of jobs and homes.

"I can't speak to reports of migrants being misled," Cassidy said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis spent $615,000 in Florida taxpayer money to fly almost 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard, state records show.

But he did say Biden's criticism was hypocritical, citing the administration's decision to drop off a busload of about 80 Haitian migrants in Shreveport last summer with little or no notice to state or local officials. "They dropped them in Shreveport with no heads up," Cassidy said.

"I'm not blaming the people crossing the border; I'm blaming the administration because it has been so incompetent," he said.

Cassidy said some border cities like El Paso are swelling in population beyond the means to take care of those there.

Last week the Biden administration said it is "surging resources" to El Paso, Texas' sixth-largest city, where homeless shelters are overwhelmed and migrants — with nowhere else to go — are sleeping in the streets.

Massachusetts officials said the migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard have been given shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod as authorities figure out what to do next.

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1