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Sorry, There’s No ‘Smoking Gun’ In Martha’s Vineyard, Just A Lot Of Left-Wing Condescension

BY: JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

6 MIN READ

Martha's Vineyard

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JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON

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One of the most condescending and insulting responses on the left to the Martha’s Vineyard migrant imbroglio last week was the repeated insistence, by blue-check media figures and Democrat politicians alike, that the 50 migrants who voluntarily boarded a plane to Massachusetts were somehow misled or tricked into it. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in this fevered telling, took advantage of these poor people for a political stunt, proving himself to be a cruel and heartless man, willing to exploit the misfortune of desperate migrants — weaponize them! —  just to own the libs. 

It’s hard to think of a more patronizing attitude toward men and women who successfully navigated a harrowing exodus from Venezuela and Columbia, trekked through Central America and Mexico, dealt with smugglers and cartels and corrupt police the entire way, and finally set foot in the United States.

Contrary to insulting left-wing stereotypes about ignorant and confused migrants, the people who show up at our southern border tend to be tough, determined, and keenly aware of what’s in their own best interest. (I know that firsthand, having interviewed hundreds of migrants over the years, most recently in Reynosa and Matamoros, Mexico. I always come away impressed by their grit and resolve and resourcefulness, which is more than I can say for Twitter blue-checks who are happy to opine about what we should do about “helpless migrants” but can’t be bothered to take a trip to the border to interview them in person.)

Now comes Judd Legum with an unintentionally hilarious story for Popular Information purporting to be a “smoking gun” proving that the Martha’s Vineyard migrants were lied to — and maybe even kidnapped! It’s probably the purest possible distillation of the condescending left-wing notion of confused and helpless migrants being led around by the nose by cynical and evil Republicans. 

Legum opens his breathless reportage with this bombshell: “Popular Information has obtained documentary evidence that migrants from Venezuela were provided with false information to convince them to board flights chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). The documents suggest that the flights were not just a callous political stunt but potentially a crime.”

And what is this documentary evidence? A brochure outlining refugee and immigrant benefits and assistance available in Massachusetts, which is a sanctuary state with multiple state programs designed to assist refugees and migrants. Legum says he got the brochure from Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR), a Boston-based legal organization that’s supposedly representing 30 of the migrants, who presumably got it from Florida officials before they boarded the flight to Martha’s Vineyard.

According to Legum, though, the benefits described in the brochure are only available to refugees who have been referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and authorized to live in the U.S. They’re not for illegal immigrants who have claimed asylum, like the Martha’s Vineyard migrants. Therefore, he says, they were misled. Lawyers for LCR are now asking the Massachusetts attorney general to open an investigation. “The allegation that the migrants were misled is legally significant,” writes Legum. “It would mean that the flights were not just heartless, but potentially criminal.”

But no matter how much activist reporters like Legum might wish that DeSantis had somehow committed a crime by offering illegal immigrants a voluntary free flight to Massachusetts, it just isn’t so. The 50 or so migrants who landed in Martha’s Vineyard last week were never promised employment or anything else, they were simply told that sanctuary states like Massachusetts, unlike Florida and Texas, have programs and assistance available to refugees and migrants, which is true.

The brochure in question, for example, contains a list of community services and churches that have migrant assistance programs. The first one listed is a link for the immigration page of a website called First Stop Martha’s Vineyard, which is an online reference guide to the island’s social services and programs. It includes information about the Massachusetts Office for Refugee and Immigrants, among other programs.

The flights themselves were organized and funded as part of Florida’s relocation program to transport Florida-bound illegal immigrants to sanctuary states like Massachusetts, California, and New York. The Florida legislature last year set aside $12 million for the program, which also targets human smugglers and traffickers through a law enforcement strike force. Texas has a similar program under the aegis of Gov. Greg Abbott’s $4 billion ongoing border security initiative, Operation Lone Star. 

According to Florida officials, the Martha’s Vineyard migrants were identified in Texas as Florida-bound, but with no resources to travel. Some of them were sleeping in the streets, others in shelters. They were put up in hotels for a night or two and offered voluntary transport to Martha’s Vineyard. Some, after a night in a hotel, changed their minds and opted not to go. One migrant, a man named Eduardo Linares, told the Texas Tribune he declined the offer but that he’s since heard from people who went to Martha’s Vineyard, and now he’s wondering whether he made the right decision. Legum quotes Linares alleging that a mysterious blonde-haired woman named “Perla” promised him and others a job and rent assistance in Martha’s Vineyard, but left out the part about Linares second-guessing his decision to stay behind. Why? Because including that detail would disrupt the preposterous narrative that these migrants are confused and helpless, unable to make their own decisions, and totally at the mercy of duplicitous, scheming politicians like DeSantis and Abbott.

The reality of the situation is more complicated. Often, illegal immigrants who cross the southern border into the U.S. already have a job lined up and a place to stay, usually with family members. They’re bound for points all across the country, from California to Massachusetts. Some might even make their way to Martha’s Vineyard, especially if they’re offered a free ride.

That is to say, most of them have a plan. But you would never know it from the coverage of the Martha’s Vineyard saga, which didn’t just demonstrate the hypocrisy of leftists who welcome illegal immigrants so long as they don’t show up in places like Martha’s Vineyard. It also demonstrated the appalling condescension many in the corporate press have toward the very migrants they pretend to champion. 


John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

    If Anyone Believes In ‘Replacement Theory,’ It’s Democrats Who Think Voters Are Stupid


    REPORTED BY: JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON | MAY 18, 2022

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/05/18/if-anyone-believes-in-replacement-theory-its-democrats-who-think-voters-are-stupid/

    Biden's Buffalo speech

    Democrats have been bragging that ‘demographics is destiny’ for years. But a more diverse electorate isn’t voting the way they’d hoped.

    Author John Daniel Davidson profile

    JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON

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    In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Buffalo, New York, where a deranged white supremacist killed 10 people, elite opinion quickly settled on the real culprit: Republicans. The New York Times spelled it out explicitly in an editorial this week, claiming Republican politicians and conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson, “openly espouse versions of a white supremacist conspiracy theory holding that an orchestrated effort is underway to displace white Americans.”

    The Times is of course referring to so-called “replacement theory,” the idea that global elites are trying to “replace” white Americans with immigrants and foreigners, which the Times thinks is a common belief among Republicans. Not to be outdone by the Times, the Washington Post’s editors on Monday declared, “what was once on the fringes has now been given currency, thanks to the Republican Party’s tolerance of white nationalists who count themselves as part of its base.”

    The notion that “replacement theory” is mainstream on the right, much less in the GOP, is of course abject nonsense. But the accusation serves a purpose. By conflating the conspiracy theories of maniacs like the Buffalo shooter with legitimate calls for, say, border security and controls on illegal immigration, the left can smear all Republicans as white supremacists. Doing so serves a useful purpose for Democrats. If Republicans are the party of people who believe global elites are trying to “replace” white Americans with immigrants and foreigners, then any calls to fix our immigration system or solve the ongoing crisis at the border must be in bad faith, nothing more than rank racism thinly disguised as a respectable-sounding immigration agenda.

    It also serves Democrats in another way: it helps mask an electoral agenda they once openly espoused. It’s no secret that Democrats think mass illegal immigration will accrue to their electoral advantage over the long term. For years, they have felt comfortable saying so routinely on national television. Indeed, the notion that “demographics is destiny” has been a long-running belief among Democrats, famously spelled out in John Judis and Ruy Teixeira’s widely acclaimed 2004 book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority.” Part of their argument rests on the assumption that immigration, legal and illegal, will swell the ranks of Democrat voters and hasten the inevitable emergence of a permanent Democratic majority. That theory, whatever its merits in 2004, is looking weaker by the year. Under President Trump, the Republican Party made huge inroads among black and Hispanic voters, especially in areas like south Texas and Florida, where Democrats’ theory of demographics would have suggested such GOP gains would be impossible.

    It’s not just Republican voters who are getting more diverse, but also Republican officeholders. As Henry Olsen noted after the 2020 election, which saw a record number of Republican women and minorities elected to the House, “every seat Republicans have flipped from blue to red has been captured by a woman or a minority.”

    The Virginia statewide elections last year continued this trend, with a black woman, Winsome Sears, elected lieutenant governor, and an Hispanic man, Jason Miyares, elected attorney general. So much for the emerging Democratic majority.

    But here’s the thing: Republicans didn’t come up with the “demographics is destiny” idea. Democrats did. For years, they bragged that rising levels of immigration and massive demographic change would usher in profound changes in U.S. politics. The Buffalo shooter went on and on about this in his idiotic manifesto, echoing similar diatribes from other racist mass shooters in recent years. Wonder where they got the idea? 

    It’s true that the country is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s simply a fact. The problem for Democrats is that this more diverse electorate isn’t voting the way they hoped it would. In part, that’s because Republicans are waking up to the fact that immigration and border security, together with other commonsense policies like not letting rioters burn down neighborhoods and not shutting down the economy because of Covid, are issues that can broaden their base and bring in a more diverse array of voters.

    All of which is to say, asinine white supremacist notions about how all the races should live separately have absolutely nothing to do with efforts to control illegal immigration, and most people know it. When Democrats try to smear Republicans as white supremacists for wanting a secure border, understand that they’re not just trying to demonize the right, they’re trying to change the subject. Illegal immigration is just about the last thing any Democrat wants voters thinking about heading into the midterms. Why? Because the border is a complete disaster. According to the latest data, federal authorities arrested more than 234,000 illegal immigrants in April, yet another record-breaking monthly total. So far, this fiscal year, nearly 1.3 million illegal border-crossers have been arrested along the southwest border, also a record.

    Ordinary, non-white supremacist Americans of all races and walks of life look at this and think something must be very wrong at the border. They see news stories like the one this week about an industrial-scale drug-smuggling tunnel that federal authorities discovered on the California-Mexico border — six stories deep and the length of six football fields, with reinforced walls, electricity, ventilation and a rail system — and they wonder what’s going on in Mexico. They are smart enough to know that drugs like fentanyl, which is ravaging American communities, come primarily from labs in northern Mexico that are controlled by powerful cartels. They also know that these cartels are in the business of drug and human trafficking, and that they profit off mass illegal immigration. 

    Voters are not stupid, certainly not stupid enough to believe that the GOP and Tucker Carlson are fomenting white supremacist conspiracy theories. But the editors at The New York Times and the Washington Post, along with every leading Democrat including the president, think they are. At this point, they’re counting on it. 


    John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

    United Nations Grantee Uses U.S. Tax Dollars To Fund Illegal Immigration


    Reported By Todd Bensman | DECEMBER 16, 2021

    Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/12/16/united-nations-grantee-uses-u-s-tax-dollars-to-fund-illegal-immigration/

    AUSTIN, Texas – During a recent trip to a Reynosa, Mexico migrant camp, I took photos of a United Nations-supported International Organization for Migration (IOM) operation to hand out cash debit cards to intending and repeat border crossers. One of two workers at a plastic folding table inside the Reynosa camp, which was filled to capacity with at least 1,200 mostly U.S.-expelled Central Americans, said they were distributing the cards for IOM to help migrants waiting until they cross the Rio Grande at greater leisure to claim asylum, for which most will be declared ineligible years later. Many parents, for instance, got about $400 every 15 days, I was told, or $800 a month if they were still there to collect it, although the support level varied.

    My photos of this posted to Twitter and related dispatch for the Center for Immigration Studies drew outrage among some Republican lawmakers. They saw the images as evidence that the U.S. taxpayer-funded IOM was providing material support to an ongoing mass migration harmful to America’s national interest.

    A couple of weeks later, Texas Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, and 11 other House Republican co-sponsors introduced the No Tax Dollars for the United Nations Immigration Invasion Act bill. It would prohibit the $3.8 billion in contributions currently proposed in the White House 2022 budget to the IOM and other UN-supported organizations. A Daily Caller story that broke news of the bill’s introduction quoted Gooden citing my Reynosa photos.

    When I took the photos, I wasn’t exactly sure of exactly what I was seeing in Reynosa. But here’s what I have learned since: The money card is confirmed beyond doubt, but also “hard cash in envelopes” and “movement assistance”; and an online IOM “Emergency Manual” describes what I saw as part of a program it terms “Cash-Based Interventions,” or CBIs.

    A plastic IOM cash card given to an aspiring border-crossing migrant in Reynosa, Mexico on November 20. Photo by Todd Bensman.

    Paying People Who Illegally Enter the United States

    So, for starters, country-specific IOM “Cash Working Groups” are indeed coordinating the handouts of the cash-holding plastic cards I saw (referred to as prepaid debit cards, e-wallets and e-cards) to intending U.S. border crossers in Reynosa, Mexico. But it turns out that is just an iceberg tip. The IOM is handing out cash and other material support to intending illegal border crossers in as many as 100 other shelters it helped build, expand, or supports from Central America north. Some form of this has been around for years, but starting with a mass-migration event and Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy in 2019, the IOM supercharged the program and “institutionalized” it. This doubled the countries where it is used in 2020 and increased by 77 percent the number of recipients to 1.6 million worldwide, according to an annual 2020 IOM report. That would include Mexico.

    The IOM Emergency Manual document says this cash assistance also includes less-seeable bank transfers, mobile transfers, and e-vouchers that go to intending illegal border crossers en route or at least temporarily blocked like many of those I saw and interviewed in Reynosa. In addition to those and the pre-paid plastic cards, the IOM says in its Emergency Manual that it also sometimes hands out “cash in envelopes (hard cash).” No details are offered on that. Many payments are given as “unconditional; unrestricted cash transfers” for “multi-purpose use,” the manual says. Still other handouts subsidize the lodging, rent, and utilities of intending border crossers for “safe tenure, to reduce the risk of forced eviction.”

    Start Tapping U.S. Taxpayers Before You Get There

    Then there is “movement assistance” in the form of conditional or unrestricted cash transfers. The IOM describes this money as providing transportation access after, say a camp is closed, but also simply “to sites and other situations related to onward movement of population.”

    To border hawks, all of this looks, feels, and acts like an agency providing the means for illegal border crossings. The IOM’s own stated purpose for cash-based interventions would only reinforce the perception: the money is intended to “restore feelings of choice and empowerment for beneficiaries.”

    Migrant advocates defend cash support to aspiring illegal border crossers as a means to prevent death and suffering among populations they believe have no choice but to migrate and would whether or not any UN agency helps out. But the legitimate flip side of that claim is that cash in envelopes or in e-wallets—filled in part by U.S. taxpayer money—can also be said to enable, sustain, or even entice many driven not by urgent dangers but by a desire for better jobs amid reports that Americans would let them in.

    Spending U.S. Money to Encourage ‘Invasion’

    An aggravating irony among the fast-expanding coterie of Republican congressional critics of the UN largesse is that U.S. taxpayer money is being spent in contravention of American immigration law and national interest in controlling the border against economic migration.

    “All of this sounds like they’re using U.S. tax dollars to encourage this invasion into the nation, and it seems strange to me that we would support an organization that encourages and funds this,” Gooden told me. “It’s totally crazy. I am baffled that there’s not more outrage, but I think the lack of outrage is due to the lack of knowledge.”

    While it may be true that IOM money relieves the suffering of intending border crossers, it is just as arguably true that it creates financial breathing room they need to prepare for more opportune crossing moments. The money enables that highly desired payoff, rather than a forced trip home for lack of funds after, say, an expensive smuggling journey that ended with U.S. expulsion. Those ones arrive in villages with a deterring don’t-try-this message to friends and neighbors.

    Regarding the importance of such messaging in the development of mass migration crises, I’ve never met one who didn’t carry a cell phone connected to Internet social media. In interviews with perhaps hundreds of migrants in Mexico and beyond, I learned that this live-time social media grapevine constantly sings with news from the trail upstream that directly informs decisions downstream as to whether to launch north or remain in place. So when word of these IOM cash, lodging, and transportation benefits spreads via social media to hometowns, friends and relatives undoubtedly feel more emboldened to invest smuggling money for their own journeys to UN waystations. Because of all this, monthly IOM cash for food, lodging, and “movement” assistance amounts to material support for illegal immigration. It influences decisions to cross.

    Increasing U.S. Cash Support for Illegal Immigration

    It’s unclear just how much the United States gives IOM to sustain intending border crossers until they succeed, or how many got some during 2021. But the cash giveaways have been on a steep skyward trajectory since 2019 and only show signs of continuing upward.

    The public reporting as to how much the United States, through the State Department, gives IOM and how many got it is opaque at best. President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget calls for $10 billion in humanitarian assistance “to support vulnerable people abroad.” But there’s no detailed breakout.

    A Fiscal Year 2019 summary (starting page 37) by the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), which provides U.S. funding to the IOM and many other United Nations agencies, offers one clue of the pre-expansion levels. IOM spent more than $60 million in 2019 for activities in the northern part of South America, Central America, and Mexico during the so-called “caravan migrant crisis” earlier that year, the fiscal year report said.

    State Department-funneled money helped IOM provide 29,000 people in the Western Hemisphere with cash and voucher assistance and supported 75 shelter waystations, the State Department report states on page 42, much like the one I visited in Reynosa. Along the northern border of Mexico in July 2019, at the height of a “caravan” crisis, the IOM provided 600 beds and essential items to the Mexican government and helped it expand existing shelters and build new ones to accommodate the “asylum seekers.”

    This came as a response to the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” turn-back policy. That deported economic migrants trying to abuse the asylum system, while others chose to wait for Democrats to take the White House in November 2020—a sound bet, it turned out.

    The IOM decided to increase the size and scope of the program after 2019, even after President Biden took office and ended Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. The extent is unclear, but the IOM institutionalized cash handout programs in Panama, El Salvador, and Mexico in 2020. Ambiguously, the IOM’s annual 2020 report on the program showed only that it gave cash to somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 people in Mexico that year.

    Whatever the recipient numbers since 2019, the IOM clearly intends an upward trajectory for the cash giveaways. The IOM’s Emergency Manual stated several times it would do so in alignment with a fairly recent pact among an international consortium of organizations known as The Grand Bargain, of which the IOM is a signatory. The Grand Bargain pact dates to 2016.

    An Inter-Agency Standing Committee Grand Bargain website reports that number 3 on the objectives list is Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming.” A November 26, 2021 Grand Bargain caucus on cash coordination had all principals agree to increase the use of cash “beyond current low levels” through the use of even more means of delivery.

    The section’s first line starts out using familiar language seen in the IOM’s Emergency Manual: “Using cash helps deliver greater choice and empowerment to affected people…”

    Here’s the problem: with the greater choice and empowerment that IOM money can buy, aspiring migrants are able to remain within striking distance of the southern border to choose the time of their inevitable illegal border crossings. No one should wonder why border hawks hate this system and open borders advocates love it.

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