RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The flight of 50 migrants sent by Florida's governor to Martha's Vineyard continued to stir strong reactions from Venezuelan Americans in South Florida on Friday.
"He's hurting people who are scared, running away from the communist system," Karym Salcido of Lake Worth Beach said, referring to the governor.
Salcido is a Venezuelan American who is upset over the Venezuelan migrants that were moved from Texas to Florida and then to Martha's Vineyard.
Critics have called Gov. Ron DeSantis' action a political stunt.
Salcido said Venezuela is now sinking deeper into an economic and political crisis where critics of the government there are being jailed.
"I know my people are running away from a dictatorship," Salcido said. "My people are running away from a humanitarian crisis and it's really sad that people running away from this situation are being treated like political pawns."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was in Riviera Beach on Friday where he visited a local car restoration business and said he didn't have enough details from the governor about the situation.
"I don't know the details of what he did. I haven't heard from his office about the mechanics of it, so I can't speak about what you're asking about, the legalities and details of it," Rubio said.
He later spoke about the broader issue of immigration.
"People want to freak out about Martha's Vineyard, whatever, but I'm telling you that the bigger problem here is not that 50 people were sent to Martha's Vineyard," Rubio said. "The bigger problem here is that every single day thousands of people enter the country illegally."
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a candidate for U.S. Senate who is challenging Rubio for his seat in November's election, issued the following statement Friday:
"Venezuelans fleeing Nicolás Maduro’s socialist dictatorship deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It's shameful that Marco Rubio would endorse the political games being played with refugees seeking the American Dream."