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Palm Beach County residents offer differing opinions on migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard

'I think we should be sanctuary cities for people that came here legally,' Donald Tarca says
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.
Posted at 10:07 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 23:22:00-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — News of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sending planes with migrants out of the state and into Massachusetts is sparking conversation at the Waros Grill Venezuelan Food Truck along Military Trail.

"We are not the bad people," Mauricio Rodriguez, the co-owner of Waros Grill, said. "We want to work here. We want to grow up here. We want to grow a family, live the American dream."

Rodriguez left Venezuela to escape crime and political turmoil and has called West Palm Beach home for five years.

Now, he worries for the future of his people.

Mauricio Rodriguez the co-owner of Waros Grill, Sept. 15, 2022
Mauricio Rodriguez came to Palm Beach County five years ago after leaving Venezuela.

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"We learn from you or maybe you could learn something from us, so that's good, that's great," Rodriguez said. "It's going to be a stronger country if you have different cultures, if you have a different nationality or different experiences."

Officials in Martha's Vineyard said they weren't given a heads up about the arrivals but set up temporary shelters with the help of neighbors, volunteers and activists.

Not everyone disagrees with the governor's move, like supporter Donald Tarca.

Donald Tarca, supporter of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sept. 15, 2022
Donald Tarca believes sending the migrants to Martha's Vineyard was a good decision given the affluence of the island.

"You send them to a very affluent neighborhood, right, so if any place would be able to help these people, I think it was an excellent place to go," Tarca said.

Martha's Vineyard is a "sanctuary destination" — a safe space for undocumented immigrants.

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It is something that DeSantis said Florida is not.

"Nobody wants people to come to this country more than I do, to become Americans," Tarca said. "I think we should be sanctuary cities for people that came here legally."

Tarca said the country is experiencing a border crisis and events like this shine a light on the issue.

"A lot of these mayors that are having an issue with this said they were sanctuary cities, but now they're complaining about it. You can't have it both ways," Tarca said. "They say they're a sanctuary city, but then when the immigrants arrive they start asking the federal government for more help."