Fox News political commentator Geraldo Rivera has sent a scathing message to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after his political stunt involving Venezuelan migrants.
Rivera took to Twitter and predicted that Mr DeSantis will face serious consequences at the ballot box for sending two flights of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last month.
According to a Mason-Dixon poll released on Wednesday, Mr DeSantis leads the gubernatorial race in the Sunshine State by 11 points over Democrat Charlie Crist.
“Governor DeSantis will soon feel the wrath of Florida’s Latino voters outraged by his toying with the lives of those Venezuelan refugees he exploited,” Rivera tweeted in reference to the more than 40 migrants who were told they were being sent to Boston to obtain work papers through a programme sponsored by the Florida government.
The migrants began their flight in San Antonio, Texas, before going to the panhandle in Florida and then on to Martha’s Vineyard — DeSantis later took credit for the “innovative” relocation measure.
The Republican has been lauded by fellow anti-immigration political leaders, while immigration activists, Democrats and the White House have deemed the measure deeply alarming.
The new Florida governor will be elected on 8 November, with more than 1.4m Latinos expected to cast ballots, according to the NALEO Educational Fund.
It is not the first time that Rivera has condemned Mr DeSantis over the stunt.
Governor DeSantis will soon feel the wrath of Florida’s Latino voters outraged by his toying with the lives of those Venezuelan refugees he exploited.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) October 5, 2022
Last month, he also tweeted that, “DeSantis and Abbott have succeeded in making the problem front page news” and challenged “those hungry, hugely ambitious politicians to come up with specific policies to alleviate the border crisis.”
In response to the initial backlash, Mr DeSantis said that Florida is not a sanctuary city and that he will “facilitate the transport for migrants to able to go to greener pastures.”
The migrants arrived at the wealthy island’s airport on 14 September. Some of them later accepted a Massachusetts-sponsored programme and have already been relocated to other places in the state.
The last dozen of migrants on the island are expected to leave this weekend, the Associated Press reported.
It has since emerged that the group was given $10 McDonald’s gift cards and the promise that their children would be taken care of upon arrival, a fellow migrant and recruiter, who wished to remain anonymous, told CNN.
The individual told CNN that he was approached by a woman named Perla, who gave him clothes and food so he would join the scheme in which 48 mostly Venezuelan migrants landed unannounced on the wealthy island.
The man said he was unaware of the political stunt behind his recruitment and that Perla had promised him the migrants would have a better future in Massachusetts.
The group of migrants have sued Mr DeSantis and his administration, claiming they were victims of a “fraudulent and discriminatory” scheme.
The class action lawsuit comes as at least one law enforcement agency, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, is investigating the governor’s plans for allegedly “luring” migrants with false promises of employment and financial assistance.