Many of the migrants who were sent to Massachusetts did not want to stay in Martha’s Vineyard because they have family or friends in other parts of the country like Miami and Portland, Oregon, and now they’re trying to figure out how to get tickets to those places, Garcia said. Three people he spoke to wanted to go to Florida, he added.
“It’s a political stunt,” Garcia told CNN over the phone Saturday. “They’re going to wind up in Miami.”
Migrants released from government custody often move to other cities across the US as they go through their immigration proceedings.
Garcia said he spoke in person to about 11 migrants on Martha’s Vineyard on Friday and, separately, a few migrants in DC. Most of the migrants were happy with the “welcome they had received in Martha’s Vineyard,” but felt they had been used for politics, Garcia said.
He criticized DeSantis and Abbott over their treatment of the migrants, saying the governors want to “score political points with their base.”
Democratic leaders, migrants’ advocates and federal officials have also denounced the moves of the two governors. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused the governors of using migrants as “political pawns” and said their actions amounted to a “cruel, premeditated political stunt.”
A spokesperson for Rollins’ office told CNN they did not have a comment.
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office said the office is in touch with federal and state partners, gathering facts and evaluating all legal options related to the two flights.
“Our office continues to review all information relevant to this situation,” spokesperson Chloe Gotsis told CNN in a statement.
Meanwhile, Garcia on Saturday described the scene when the migrants left Martha’s Vineyard for Joint Base Cape Cod — already an emergency shelter designated by the state emergency management agency — a day earlier and local volunteers bid them goodbye.
“Everyone was clapping and cheering them on,” he said. “It’s actually what America’s supposed to be like.”
CNN’s Maria Santana contributed to this report.