Llast week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis paid private charter company for migrants fly from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Like more facts they have come to light about how the migrants were deceived in accepting these flights, a civil court trial a claim for damages on behalf of the migrants has already been filed against DeSantis. He can be too subject to criminal prosecution.
Politics and elected office aside, it is illegal to entice people to travel by lying to them about their destination and making false promises about benefits available on arrival. But DeSantis’ actions weren’t just the behavior of a man who chartered a private jet and tricked people into traveling out of state. They were attempts by a red state Republican governor to I protest federal immigration law and policy by sending migrants to a progressive state to create disruption there.
DeSantis’ flights resemble trips sponsored by other Republican governors of red states this summer. For the monthArizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have been hiring buses to remove migrants from their countries Illinois, new York and Washington. Their stated purpose, like Desantis, was to sow strife and disturbance in liberal states and cities.
President Biden and others ridiculed these trips, as well as those organized by DeSantis, as “political tricks.” They are more disturbing than that. They are lawless acts, deliberate attempts by some states, acting through their governors, to contradict the basic premise and purpose of the union established by the US Constitution.
States have always had to find ways to coexist, even when they have different interests or political preferences. The constitution itself was enacted to resolve the coordination difficulties that states had on issues such as national defensethe conduct of foreign Affairson creation of a Common currency and national government funding. The federal courtsalso established by the Constitution and further developed by Congress, provide another avenue where states can peacefully and legally settle their differences, judgment specific disputes that arise between them. Even before such battles mature into lawsuits, states, like individuals, sometimes have to negotiate terms of cooperation among themselves. There is an established legal mechanism for this called an interstate treaty. It is also rooted in the United States Constitution, which has been interpreted by federal courts to establish basic rules to ensure that such agreements between states have the approval of the federal government.
Texas, Arizonaand Florida all are now parties to numerous interstate agreements covering everything from multistate lotteries to water distribution to child custody and adoption to professional licensing. If Abbott, Ducey and DeSantis were trying to develop multi-state mechanisms to house asylum seekers and other legal migrants, they could look to their counterparts in other states to come up with a negotiated plan.
Instead, Abbott, Ducey, and now DeSantis have chosen to ambush sister state governments through surprising them with busloads and planeloads of migrants arriving at unannounced times and places. They have refused requests from mayors in other countries to work together. The buses and planes sent by Abbott, Ducey and DeSantis unload their passengers wherever they will get the most press coverage or will cause inconvenience and difficulties for residents and government offices.
The US Constitution does not expressly prohibit one state from intentionally creating disorder in another. But attempts to do so undermine one basic premise to unite in legal union: peaceful, cooperative coexistence among the states, as well as between them and the federal government. As governors of the state, Ducey, Abbott and DeSantis have acted unconstitutionally, even unconstitutionally. Although they did not launch armed attacks against other states or the federal government, they showed a refusal to participate in the basic design and ambition of the American constitutional union. This is a step towards separation.
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