Many Venezuelan migrants living in New York City, a self-proclaimed sanctuary city, were offered a free ride down to Florida this weekend, where they have been promised hurricane cleanup work.
Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew two planes filled with approximately 50 illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard in an effort to relocate them to sanctuary cities.
Now, a water and debris company is reportedly sending migrants back to Florida on the promise of more job opportunities.
The migrants had little information about the company that had hired them for hurricane cleanup work, but that did not stop them from piling into vans this weekend believed to be heading to Florida.
Javier Moreno, 37, told the New York Post that a woman named Camila “from an organization” showed him a flier with the job details. He said, “They want us for hurricane cleanup, we’d get paid $15 an hour, overtime and $15 for food daily, I think.”
Moreno added, “I’m going for the work. It’s been hard for us migrants to find work here in New York, that’s why a lot of us are going. How’s the work in Florida?”
A driver of one of the vans confirmed with the news outlet that they were headed for Florida.
“I’m taking these people in the van straight to Florida tonight,” the driver stated. “I don’t know how many people have left or how many more vans are coming.”
The driver also provided the name of his employer, a water and debris company, but the New York Post said the business did not answer its phone after several attempts.
Many migrants said they were recruited by a woman named Camila. Others stated they learned about the opportunity through a WhatsApp group or a flyer being passed around town.
Gregorio Avila, a 22-year-old man from Venezuela, said, “We have a contact with a lady who is taking us to Florida. We are going to work as contractors on the disaster.”
The hiring advertisement guaranteed an opportunity to earn $700 or more per week performing hurricane cleanup work down south. In response, shelters around New York City are emptying as migrants line up to hitch a ride to Florida.
A 38-year-old migrant reported witnessing hundreds of people leave one shelter. He said, “I came back to the shelter one night to find that people were leaving in vans.”
According to the New York Post, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said City Hall was not involved. FEMA denied any involvement as well.