Migrant flights cause split opinions among Florida Hispanics

A woman, who is part of a group of immigrants that had just arrived, holds a child as they are...
A woman, who is part of a group of immigrants that had just arrived, holds a child as they are fed outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)(AP)
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST
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Despite the backlash that Gov. Ron Desantis has received over his move to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, polls conducted prior to the midterm elections showed he still had big support from Hispanics and a majority of people in Florida supported the migrant relocation.

Fifty percent of Hispanic registered voters in Florida surveyed in a Telemundo poll approved Desantis’ action, 43% disapproved and 7% said they weren’t sure.

But if you look closer at the Latino community, perspectives vary by age, origin and party registration.

"To say the Cubans or Venezuelans or Colombians think one way is part of the problem in this country," Rolando Chang Barrero, president of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus in Palm Beach County, said.

The Telemundo poll surveyed 625 registered Hispanic voters in Florida and showed that Cubans had the strongest approval of DeSantis' move to fly the migrants to Martha's Vineyard with 71% supporting the action.

"First of all, they like DeSantis, and second of all because they don't see anything wrong with immigrants going on immigration flights," Barrero said.

Barrero, who is Cuban, said he can understand why older Cubans would approve of the flights.

"If you go back years ago when the Cuban people came here, a lot of the Marielitos [who] came ... were dispersed all over the United States," Lydia Maldonado, chairperson of the Latino Republicans of the Palm Beaches, said.

Maldonado is Puerto Rican and arrived in the U.S. when she was 13 years old.

"I think this has been taken out of proportion," Maldonado said. "When you do cross that border, you're taking a chance, and you don't know where you're going."

She said she approves of the governor's actions.

"What the governor did, I personally believe he gave them an opportunity of a new life," Maldonado said. "Listen, they got a free ride in a plane down to Martha’s Vineyard."

However, 83% of Hispanic Democrats surveyed did not approve of the move.

"That was ill-spirited, mean and some would say it was cruel just for a political stunt during election season," Barrero said.

He said relocating the migrants was not the issue but how and why it was executed.

"Our country is a sanctuary country," Barrero said. "Historically, every person has migrated here seeking refuge and seeking sanctuary, so the idea that we would isolate one state over another as a sanctuary state, a sanctuary city is just a talking point."

There are more than 2.5 million registered Hispanic voters in Florida. The Telemundo poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy and interviewed 625 people over the phone.

Scripps Only Content 2022