White House says it's aware of potential flights carrying migrants to Delaware

·Senior Writer
·3-min read

The White House said Tuesday that it was aware that flights may be scheduled to carry migrants to President Biden’s home state of Delaware, and that it had been in contact with local officials.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Tuesday’s White House briefing that the administration was in close contact with Delaware officials about the possibility that two Republican governors, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, may use private planes to send migrants to Rehoboth Beach, where Biden has a vacation home.

“We have received word of the flights, and we are coordinating closely with state officials and local service providers who are prepared to welcome these families in an orderly manner, as they pursue their asylum claims,” Jean-Pierre said.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the podium with the White House Seal and an American flag behind her.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addresses the White House briefing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, the two governors transported migrants to the island of Martha’s Vineyard off Massachusetts and outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington, D.C. One of the planes used in that trip was scheduled to arrive in Delaware on Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre criticized the actions, saying, “I can tell you we’ve been closely coordinating with the folks in Delaware, the officials in Delaware. I can tell you our heads up did not come from Gov. DeSantis, because his only goal, as he’s made it really clear, is to create chaos and use immigrants fleeing communism as political pawns. It’s about creating political theater for him, it’s not about creating a solution.”

When asked if the White House had reached out to DeSantis or Abbott to see if they could come to an understanding, Jean-Pierre replied, “There’s no understanding to be reached,” and stated that the governors should push for the states’ Republican senators to support additional funding for the Department of Homeland Security and comprehensive immigration reform.

At the conclusion of his remarks at the White House on Tuesday, Biden briefly answered a question about the flight, responding that DeSantis “should come visit [Delaware], we have a beautiful shore.”

In Texas, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced that his office was investigating the “luring” of 48 Venezuelan migrants who were in the San Antonio area legally before being transported to Florida and then Martha’s Vineyard for what he alleged was “a photo-op and [to be] stranded."

Volunteers mingle with some of the migrants outside St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.
Volunteers mingle with migrants from Venezuela outside St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Sept. 15. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

"What infuriates me the most is what we have is 48 people here legally — they have every right to be here, and they were preyed upon," Salazar said at a press conference Monday. "Lured with promises of a better life and with the knowledge they would cling [to] anything that was offered for a better life and were exploited and hoodwinked to make the trip to Florida for what I believe was political posturing."

A spokesperson for Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, said Tuesday, “Our teams at [Delaware Emergency Management Agency] and [Delaware Department of Health and Social Services] are working with community organizations and other partners to make sure that migrants who arrive here have the support that they need.”

DeSantis defended the actions in a Monday night interview with Fox News, telling Sean Hannity that the migrants “all signed consent forms to go” and that the flights were “clearly voluntary, and all the other nonsense you’re hearing is just not true.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he “personally thought” the plan to transport migrants “was a good idea.”

Both DeSantis and Abbott are up for reelection this fall and are currently leading in the polls.