Migrant stunts bring blowback and outrage: The Note

Beyond the headlines, of course, are human beings.

September 20, 2022, 6:06 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have managed to move immigration and border debates to an island in Massachusetts and to Massachusetts Avenue in Washington -- and also to the middle of the midterm campaign season.

"It's on the ballot," DeSantis said at a weekend rally in Wisconsin, "and we got to make the most of it."

That includes, from DeSantis' perspective, spending up to $12 million in state funds for more efforts like the stunt that involved a plane taking would-be refugees to Martha's Vineyard.

But the current combination of policy goals and future ambitions that manifests itself in this moment is also surfacing intra-party tensions while also playing directly into reelection politics. The Democratic sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, said Monday he is opening a criminal investigation of the operation DeSantis directed, saying there is a “high possibility” that laws were broken. Immigration advocates on Tuesday are also planning a rally in Florida to protest treatment of migrants that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is calling "cruel" and "heartless."

Some on the far-right see what Abbott and DeSantis have been doing as harmful to conservative immigration-restriction efforts. Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said last week that she is "not a fan" of bringing asylum-seekers "further inland."

Other GOP voices worry that the maneuvering is dehumanizing to those -- including children -- who are fleeing authoritarian regimes. Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales, whose district includes a wide swath of the U.S.-Mexico border, said last week that transporting the migrants to Democratic states is "cute on the surface" but is ultimately "dangerous" politics with real human impact.

The tensions are real for Democrats as well, with the moves reviving well-founded concerns around the Biden administration's immigration and refugee policies. If Abbott and DeSantis wanted blue-state mayors and governors sounding alarms about the situation on the border, that's happening now, too.

Beyond the headlines, of course, are human beings. And it's hard to see how anything playing out on the ground or in the air is working toward policy solutions at the moment.

FILE PHOTO: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the primary election for the midterms during the "Keep Florida Free Tour" at Pepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa, Florida, U.S., August 24, 2022.
FILE PHOTO: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the primary election for the midterms during the "Keep Florida Free Tour" at Pepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa, Florida, U.S., August 24, 2022.
Octavio Jones/Reuters

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Two members of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 have put forward a bipartisan proposal that aims to help prevent another attack at the Capitol.

The bill, named the "Presidential Election Reform Act," was written by Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. It would keep the vice president from changing the results of the presidential election, affirming that their role is purely ceremonial.

It would also increase the number of legislators necessary to raise an objection to the election results and allow for presidential candidates to sue in federal court if a governor doesn't hand over "lawful" election results.

The legislation gets at the looming threat candidates who espouse 2020 election lies could pose to future elections.

"Mr. Trump continues to make intentionally false election-fraud allegations, claiming that he should be reinstalled as president. And current candidates for key offices—who could themselves try to change the outcome of future elections—also embrace those lies and other groundless conspiracy theories," the lawmakers wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed previewing their legislation. "This raises the prospect of another effort to steal a presidential election, perhaps with another attempt to corrupt Congress's proceeding to tally electoral votes."

According to FiveThirtyEight's analysis, 60% of Americans will have an election denier on the ballot in November.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The aftermath of Hurricane Fiona across Puerto Rico includes at least one deadly casualty, with rain expected to continue battering the island through Tuesday evening.

Amid the evolving situation on Monday, LUMA Energy said that only about 114,000 out of 1.5 million energy clients on the island had power. The outlook for full power restoration is unclear, with the company saying it aims to have "a large number of LUMA customers" with power "in a matter of days."

In the meantime, at least two states with some of the nation's highest Puerto Rican populations -- New York and Pennsylvania -- are announcing relief efforts. A task force from Maryland was also activated for a mission to the island on Monday.

According to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's office, she has directed New York State Police to send 50 troopers to Puerto Rico while committing to sending 50 more over the next several weeks. Hochul's office also announced teams from the New York Power Authority are ready to aid with power restoration on the ground.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's Gov. Tom Wolf announced the deployment of two state task force members whom his office says "are prepared to remain deployed in Puerto Rico for up to two weeks." The team is part of the "more than 300 Federal personnel" who are "already working to assist with response and recovery," as described by President Joe Biden in a Monday phone call with Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi. The immediate response indicates efforts on the island are likely to continue for days, if not weeks, given the island's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

10. That's the number of competitive Senate races that FiveThirtyEight looked at in determining how Republican candidates responded to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's proposal to institute a 15-week abortion ban. Read more from FiveThirtyEight's Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux on where Republican Senate candidates stand on abortion in key race.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with a look at the damage from Hurricane Fiona. ABC's Victor Oquendo leads us off from Puerto Rico. Then ABC's James Longman recaps Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. And, ABC's Elizabeth Schulze previews some expected action from the Federal Reserve this week. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


  • At 1:45 p.m. ET, President Biden will deliver remarks on the DISCLOSE Act, an election transparency bill the Senate plans to vote on this week.
  • At noon, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will brief.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will deliver an address at the Reagan library at 9 p.m. ET.
  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears at the Politics & Eggs event in New Hampshire at 8 a.m. ET.

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

Related Topics