Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) an embarrassment on Saturday after the senator spread disinformation about the way asylum seekers who were sent to Martha’s Vineyard in a cruel GOP stunt were treated by the residents of the island.
After Republican Governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott sent dozens of mostly Venezuelan asylum seekers and refugees to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and other liberal areas last week, Ocasio-Cortez thanked Martha’s Vineyard residents for immediately mobilizing to shelter the migrants, despite being given zero notice that they were arriving.
In a tweet responding to Ocasio-Cortez on Friday, Cruz lied about how the migrants were treated, saying that “The rich, liberal ‘people of Martha’s Vineyard’ DEPORTED THE ILLEGAL ALIENS WITHIN 24 HOURS.” This is untrue — the residents of the island had arranged to shelter and feed the group upon their arrival, and the state has now arranged to have them sheltered and fed at an emergency shelter in Cape Cod.
Ocasio-Cortez called out Cruz’s lie. “They were not deported. They were brought to shelter in the U.S. With no help from you. Why lie to and traffic Venezuelan refugees? For votes? This is nuestra familia Latina,” meaning “our Latin family.” She continued in her tweet, saying, “You should be standing up for them. If it’s one thing we can count on you for, it’s being una vergüenza,” or an embarrassment.
The right has repeatedly spread disinformation about the Martha’s Vineyard stunt, which Republicans likely pulled in hopes of exposing so-called “liberal hypocrisy” on immigration. Cruz recently deleted a tweet from last week in which he falsely claimed that Democrats had activated the National Guard in order to “interdict” the group, when in fact the National Guard was activated to help with relief.
In reality, however, it is Republicans who are likely to come out of the incident looking cruel and callous, reportedly having lied to the migrants about where they were being taken and resources that would be provided to them in an inhumane and potentially illegal attempt to score political points.
Ocasio-Cortez castigated the GOP lawmakers for the move on social media. “It’s appalling that far-right politicians seem to have decided that fall before an election is their regularly scheduled time to commit crimes against humanity on refugees,” she said Friday. “Don’t normalize this. Lying to & trafficking people for TV and clicks isn’t politics as usual. It’s abuse.”
She pointed out that immigration has only become the arduous process that it is for many asylum seekers at the southern border because it has been politicized.
“Not people calling others ‘illegal’ as they fondly recall their last name is spelled the way it is because their great-grandpa came to the US with the equivalent of a misspelled post-it note,” she wrote. “By today’s standards, most US families would have be deemed undocumented or trafficked at some point in their family history. For the most part, people didn’t need lawyers and years of processing to come to the US until immigration became a racialized issue. Remember that.”
Representatives for the migrants and other immigration experts have called for a criminal probe into DeSantis, likening his action to human trafficking or kidnapping. On Saturday, Lawyers for Civil Rights, which represents about 30 of the people who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard, sent a letter asking the Massachusetts attorney general to open a criminal investigation into the “shameful political stunt.” New York City Mayor Eric Adams also said that he is looking into legal action after Abbott similarly bused asylum seekers from Texas into New York.
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