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Other View: Abbott and DeSantis can’t have it both ways on migrants fleeing communism

What’s the difference between those oppressed by the Castros and their successor and desperate Venezuelans fleeing a socialist dictatorship built by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro? Politics.

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On Sept. 18, 2022, a bus full of people from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are shuttled away from Eagle Pass, Texas, by a group of volunteers from the League of United Latin American Citizens, as more asylum-seekers were wading through the mostly shallow waters of the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras, Mexico across the U.S. Southern border.
Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS
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Politicians in the Party of Trump are consistently unbothered by their own hypocrisy. Even still, it’s incredible to watch Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who never miss an opportunity to harp on the socialist leanings of political opponents and who’ve each officially recognized “victims of communism” — proudly torment Venezuelan asylum-seekers with their migrant relocation stunts.

Not that these governors should be tricking anyone from anywhere onto buses and airplanes and dropping them off unannounced in liberal climes to score political points. DeSantis’ flights to Martha’s Vineyard, which sent Venezuelan immigrants not from his own state but from Texas , are rightly under investigation by a Texas sheriff. Migrants were given brochures falsely promising “up to eight months of cash assistance.” Such callous treatment is likely part of why a migrant woman took her own life in a city shelter Sunday.

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The very same Republican Party now going to war against desperate asylum-seekers has long had a rhetorical if not actual soft spot in its heart for Cubans fleeing oppression. What’s the difference between those oppressed by the Castros and their successor and desperate Venezuelans fleeing a socialist dictatorship built by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro? Politics. Cuban Americans tend to vote Republican, as DeSantis and Cuban American Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz know well.

Call them Schrödinger’s migrants: They are brave, righteous changemakers entitled to American help if not refugee status when demonstrating against or resisting their socialist or communist regimes at home, but sinister “illegal immigrants” (never mind that they’re lawfully present seeking asylum) when they ask for protections from the very same regimes. American politicians’ refusal to reckon humanely with the consequences of right-wing authoritarians in Central and South America is also revolting, but that’s a future editorial.

Abbott and DeSantis should never again be allowed to invoke the specter of left-wing autocracy without an immediate reminder that, in the moment of greatest need for those who fled it, they chose instead to use these folks as pawns in a cheap political game.

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