Migrants Are Not Political Pawns — America’s Broken Promise to Those Fleeing Violence


Megan Snyder

Venezuelan migrants in San Antonio, Texas were approached on the street by government officials who offered them fast-food gift cards and a free flight to a “sanctuary” in Massachusetts; they had no idea this would be an upscale vacation destination with little opportunities for them.

Lucy MacNeela, Editor

In mid-September, dozens of South American asylum-seeking migrants, primarily Venezuelan, arrived in planes, funded by Florida residents’ tax dollars, to Martha’s Vineyard, a very wealthy island in Massachusetts.

Other migrants seeking a path to citizenship also arrived by bus to Vice President Kamala Harris’s private residence in Washington, D.C., organized by Texas’s state government.

These buses and planes filled with almost exclusively Spanish-speaking individuals arrived into these cities completely unannounced and under false pretenses from Texas’s and Florida’s governors, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis.

Was this a complete and utter exploitation of power? Yes. 

Was this a political ploy at the expense of distraught, desperate migrants? Absolutely. 

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out against this abuse of power. “They are playing games,” she said. “These are political stunts with real human beings.” 

The U.N. estimates that 5.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2014 due to the country’s current economic crisis and government instability.

Venezuela is on the U.S.’s short list of countries whose citizens will be protected if they manage to get to American soil. Though they are not guaranteed citizenship, when they set foot in the U.S., there has been, until now, an agreement by the federal government which is supposed to protect them — something completely undermined and disregarded by Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis. 

Not only were these acts a blatant human rights violation by the deception of these people and false promises made to them — such as the offering of $10 McDonald’s gift cards to all of those who boarded the buses — but they also created mass displacement of these migrants and overwhelmed shelters in cities underprepared to care for this influx of people. 

Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott don’t care about the devastating consequences of their actions to the migrants, but are merely trying to bulk up their campaign for nearing elections. 

Tensions in the south have been rising over the past years surrounding immigration issues and how to deal with migrants at the border. This is a large concern among voters in border states, which is a prime reason for Abbott and DeSantis increasing their response to migrants at the border — no matter how immoral. 

Despite many people’s outrage over the governors’ approach, these unannounced migrant drop-offs have continued to happen in recent weeks. 

How can this be legal? How are there no consequences for these governors?

Although the federal government has yet to inflict any consequences, Venezuelan migrants have taken it upon themselves to file a class action lawsuit against Governor DeSantis for engaging in “fraudulent and discriminatory” practices that resulted in their displacement. 

Lever Alejos did an interview with the New York Times where he recalled his migration story. When he arrived in Texas from Venezuela, Lever Alejos was given a choice by border patrol between a free ride to D.C. paid for by the state of Texas or a self-funded $50 bus ride to San Antonio. Although he would have preferred to go to San Antonio, he had to choose D.C. because he could not afford it.

When he arrived in the city, he was not given a place to stay. He was also not given any stipend money to find one. 

Instead, he spent the night in the plaza across from Union Station. He has no family in the U.S., and since D.C. is not a border state, they are far less equipped to handle this unexpected influx of migrants than states at the border. 

Similarly, in New York, New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, is trying to quickly build shelter capacity for the many migrants arriving each day. The lack of housing for migrants has resulted in a rise of homelessness by 10 percent. 

Why are migrants, specifically those of color, being treated this way? Why are they viewed as so disposable?

Immigration is a polarizing issue in the U.S. right now, but it cannot be ignored. Human beings who are fleeing violence and hostility are not to be used as bipartisan pawns. 

Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis should not be allowed to abuse their power to this extent — relocation, induced chaos, and neglect. 

Until there is justice for these migrants and systemic change, America will be responsible for the damage and emotional turmoil inflicted onto these migrants.