Washington (AFP) -
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took credit Thursday for sending two planeloads of undocumented Venezuelans to wealthy Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, as Republicans play up immigration issues before the November election.
Around 50 of the migrants, including children, landed Wednesday on the island, where Democratic presidents from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have summered.
According to Dylan Fernandes, a local state legislator, they were flown on chartered flights that took off from Texas.
And on Thursday two buses reportedly also from Texas deposited dozens of migrants in front of the Washington residence of Vice President Kamala Harris, the latest of such moves by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
'Immigrants are being dropped off on Martha's Vineyard by chartered flights from Texas. Many don't know where they are. They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs,' Fernandes wrote on Twitter.
'Republicans who call themselves Christians have been plotting for some time to use human lives -- men, women, and children -- as a political pawns. It is evil and inhumane,' he said.
The moves came as DeSantis and Abbott, two of the country's most prominent and combative Republican governors, have sought to highlight politically the issues of tens of thousands of migrants trying to cross the southwest border into the United States each month.
Abbott, whose state is the first destination for most of the migrants crossing from Mexico, has been sending buses of them northward, mainly to Washington, Chicago and New York, since April.
Abbott says the action is to provide relief to Texas border communities.
The Texas governor said Thursday that Vice President Harris claims the border is secure and denies the existence of an immigration crisis.
'We're sending migrants to her backyard to call on the Biden administration to do its job & secure the border,' he tweeted.
DeSantis has supported Abbott and his aides said he was behind the flight to Martha's Vineyard.
While his state is not on the southwest border, it is a destination for many migrants entering the country legally and illegally.
DeSantis is also seeking reelection in the November midterm vote, and is also a top contender to run for president under the Republican banner in 2024.
'States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country,' DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske told US media when asked about the flights to Martha's Vineyard.