"Semi-fascist" Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent two planes full of mostly Venezuelan asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard this week, using families, including children, to score points with the increasingly extremist Republican base. The immigrants were lured onto the planes with promises of jobs and housing awaiting them. The grotesque political stunt is reminiscent of some of the worst moments of the Civil Rights era.
DeSantis is not the only Republican governor to pull a maneuver like this. In recent months, to protest the Biden administration’s immigration policies, Republican governors including Greg Abbott of Texas have been shipping migrants to cities with Democratic mayors. But DeSantis upped the ante by choosing an isolated resort area as the dropoff location.
Martha’s Vineyard is difficult to travel to and from, making it an impractical logistic choice. It does, however, have political significance as a hub for the rich and famous. DeSantis made a calculated decision to give a middle finger to liberal coastal elites at the expense of marginalized people. The move is also clearly a nod to the most bigoted, xenophobic elements within the Republican Party.
There is no justification for this kind of cruelty. But there is historical precedent. In the 1960s, Southern white segregationists engaged in similar antics, lying to Black Americans and shipping them into northern areas, including Cape Cod. These maneuvers were known as “reverse freedom rides.”
DeSantis' actions represent an extreme escalation in a long line of extreme escalations. The only appropriate response to what is effectively a crisis of American democracy itself is for the federal government to step in and bring rogue governors to heel.
Unfortunately, the judiciary has been stacked by Republican presidents with rightwing judges, groomed by the billionaire-backed Federalist Society. Many of these jurists are less interested in precedent and constitutional order as they are in seeing their ideological project fulfilled.
We are not going to both-sides this moment in history. One of America’s two major political parties is led by anti-democratic, authoritarian reactionaries. It is an extremely troubling reality that bodes poorly for the nation, especially the most vulnerable. This is a moment that calls for the federal government to use its full power to fight this fascist movement.
Your Independent News Roundup
Jeff Weaver argues in JACOBIN that DeSantis should be prosecuted for his stunt, transporting immigrants under false pretenses.
FLORIDA PHOENIX, meanwhile, describes some of the fierce backlash DeSantis’ actions have generated among immigrants’ rights groups.
DOCUMENTED highlights how migrants sent by Texas to New York with no connections to the city are turning to the publication's WhatsApp community to find assistance.
Also in JACOBIN, Luke Savage argues that the crisis of legitimacy facing an increasingly unpopular Supreme Court is the moment to bring the institution back in line through reform.
Farron Cousins of THE RING OF FIRE explains the latest revelations about Ginni Thomas’ political activities—specifically, her connections to a majority of the anti-abortion groups that filed amicus briefs in the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs case, lobbying her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, and other justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.
A new story in THE AMERICAN PROSPECT recaps and expands on reporting from THE LEVER about the big-money effort to stack the judiciary with rightwing judges.
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Some Florida families are suing the state after it banned coverage for gender-affirming care through Medicaid. LOUISIANA ILLUMINATOR has the story.
DEFECTOR is out with a new story about a troubling new trend: Trump-supporting 2020 election deniers are flooding states with burdensome public records requests related to the voting, attempting to gum up the electoral system with time-consuming paperwork.
WORKING PEOPLE interviewed freight workers about why they were on the verge of going on strike.
Railroad companies and unions reached a tentative deal this week to avoid a worker strike, but the agreement is not final. LABOR NOTES breaks down the situation.
A contract rejection is still a very live possibility, based on discussions with members and leaders of various unions involved. So a strike (or lockout) is still on the table.
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Even as COVID-19 continues to kill thousands of Americans each week and more and more Americans suffer long COVID—7.5% of the population, according to the CDC—states are winding down their efforts to combat the virus. IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH reports that the state’s health department is no longer reporting reinfections to federal health officials.
FACING SOUTH is accepting applications for its 2023 Julian Bond fellowship, a program that aims to promote emerging voices in Southern media and support early-career journalists and researchers seeking innovative approaches to promoting justice and democracy in the South. This a paid, full-time opportunity.
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