The White House on Thursday lashed out at Republican elected officials for sending illegal immigrants to Democrat-run sanctuary cities like Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Washington, D.C., with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre delivering a stream of invective denouncing actions by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), as well as several GOP senators.
"Using migrants as political pawns is shameful, is reckless, and just plain wrong," Jean-Pierre told reporters at a press briefing. "If these governors truly care about border security, they should ask Texas Governor Ted Cruz and Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott why they voted against the president's request for record funding for the Department of Homeland Security."
She said there is a legal process in place for processing asylum-seekers into the U.S. and that Republican governors are "creating chaos" and "confusion" by interfering with that process.
A DeSantis spokeswoman told Fox News Wednesday that two planes full of migrants were sent from Florida to Martha's Vineyard as part of a state relocation program to carry illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities. Officials from Dukes County, Massachusetts, later confirmed that about 50 individuals from Venezuela were delivered at Martha's Vineyard Airport seeking shelter, referring to the situation as a "humanitarian crisis."
Additionally, two buses carrying migrants arrived at Vice President Kamala Harris' residence in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. Texas Gov. Abbott took credit for sending the migrants in a statement promising to continue sending migrants to sanctuary cities until the federal government secures the border.
"Our supposed Border Czar, VP Harris, has yet to see firsthand the impact of the open border policies she has helped implement," Abbott tweeted. "Texas will continue sending migrants to sanctuary cities like D.C. until Biden & Harris do their jobs to secure the border."
The actions by the Republican governors provoked a meltdown by liberals on social media. Jean-Pierre blasted the GOP governors, calling the migrant drop-offs a "cruel premeditated political stunt."
“It’s really just disrespectful to humanity. It is — it doesn’t afford them any dignity, what they’re doing, when you’re abandoning families and children in a place where they were told they were going to get housing, in a place where they were told they were going to get jobs,” Jean-Pierre said. “It is just cruel.”
Responding to the outrage, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) mocked Jean-Pierre for incorrectly stating his office.
"To be fair, sending anyone to be surrounded by rich, hypocritical liberals is pretty cruel & inhumane," Cruz said in response to her criticisms.
Earlier, the Texas senator applauded the actions by DeSantis and Abbott and accused Democrats in Martha's Vineyard of hypocrisy.
"Kudos to @GovRonDeSantis for sending illegal immigrants to Martha's Vineyard. When I proposed the same last year, the elected leadership welcomed it," Cruz said.
He referenced legislation he introduced last year called the "Stop the SURGE Act," which would have established 13 new points of entry for migrants in sanctuary city jurisdictions, including Martha's Vineyard. Cruz recalled that at the time, Dukes County Commissioner Keith Chatinover (D) welcomed immigrants to come to Martha's Vineyard.
“I would love Martha’s Vineyard to become a haven for new immigrants to this country, but Senator Cruz has no idea what he’s talking about regarding a ‘border crisis,’” Chatinover told the Martha's Vineyard Times in October 2021.
"Let’s see if the Dems in Martha’s Vineyard feel the same way after a few thousand illegal immigrants arrive on their doorstep," Cruz said Thursday morning.
Chatinover responded hours later, tweeting, "When refugees showed up on our shores, we provided them with food and shelter—not cages and family separations."
On Wednesday, the Democratic local official berated DeSantis for sending migrants to Martha's Vineyard "to prove a political point."
"The island can and will do everything we can to support them, including myself as an elected official. But the fact that you did this, without consulting us and allowing us to prepare for their arrival, is dangerous and disgusting," he said in a tweet thread calling out DeSantis.
"Islanders writ large support refugee resettlement, but we can’t help in that process if we are given no advance notice. Our governments weren’t at all prepared for this and proving a point by endangering lives is gross," Chatinover added.
However, Cruz repeatedly pointed out that while Democrats may be congratulating themselves for coming together to care for 50 people and attacking Republicans for sending them without warning, the reality of border towns in the United States is that more than 4.2 million illegal immigrants have crossed into this country since President Joe Biden took office. Those towns are overwhelmed, and Republicans say the White House is contributing to the crisis by failing to secure the border.