O’Dea says DeSantis has ‘right’ to block migrants on Martha’s Vineyard
Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea said on Sunday that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was “right” to fly about 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers to the island of Martha’s Vineyard this week.
O’Dea, a first-time candidate and CEO of a Denver construction company, faces an uphill battle to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett in November. He made the comments defending DeSantis’ actions on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“Are you comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a political tool? host Chuck Todd asked O’Dea.
“I think Ron DeSantis and (Texas) Governor (Greg) Abbot were right to bring some visibility to this issue,” O’Dea said.
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Lawyers for the migrants, most of whom are asylum-seeking Venezuelan refugees, told state and federal authorities on Saturday that their clients had been “encouraged to board planes and cross state lines under false pretenses”.
Migrants were reportedly lured onto planes led by an unidentified woman known as “Perla” with promises of jobs, housing and other resources. Rachel Self, an attorney who spoke to the migrants while they were at Martha’s Vineyard, alleged that Department of Homeland Security immigration officers gave them forged documents.
Todd asked O’Dea if DeSantis’ scheme was the “right way” to draw attention to the issue.
“We have fentanyl killing our children,” O’Dea replied. “People call what he did cruel. You know what’s cruel? Ignore this problem. Democrats ignore it, doing nothing while our children die.
A growing number of Venezuelan refugees fled the country in 2022 to seek refuge in Central America, Mexico and the United States, according to the UN Refugee Agency. The agency estimates that there are approximately 5.7 million Venezuelan refugees in the Americas, the vast majority of whom are in neighboring South American countries like Colombia and Peru.
DeSantis’ transport of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard – a small remote island that lacks services but is known as an enclave for wealthy liberals – is an escalation of a tactic employed by Abbott, which has transported migrants from Texas to large Democratic-leaning cities like New York and Washington, D.C. Under a state budget approved earlier this year, DeSantis plans to spend up to $12 million on the transportation program.
O’Dea has previously spoken enthusiastically about the prospect of DeSantis running for president in 2024.
“There are a lot of very good candidates who can serve an eight-year term,” he said in response to a question about the 2024 GOP nomination in June. “I really like DeSantis.”
On Sunday, O’Dea repeated his calls to “close (the US-Mexico border).” He endorsed some immigration reforms, including a path to citizenship for Dreamers, while call for tens of billions to be spent on hiring more border agents and completing former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
“That’s why I run,” O’Dea said. “I have to get in there so we can come up with a bipartisan bill that solves this problem.”