Ethics Quiz: Those Illegal Immigrant Exporting “Stunts”

In today’s Open Forum, veteran commenter Arthur in Maine writes in part,

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the fact that Ron DeSantis sent two charter planes loaded with illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard, which is about 10.5 miles south of me. I find this situation absolutely hilarious on the macro scale. But from an ethics standpoint, it’s more troubling.

1) The Biden administration has been flying illegals to airports all over the country and dumping them off. This, in my view, is unethical (as is the administration’s policy on the southern border). Essentially, DeSantis did the same thing, but that doesn’t make it ethical in return.

2) Conservative media is, in my opinion, overstating the reaction on the left. Unethical. That said, there’s enough pearl clutching on the left to make this all highly entertaining. To me. Which is unethical, and I’m not proud of it, but I never claimed to be perfect.

3) DeSantis’s timing could have been better. Most of the uber-rich limousine liberals with summer homes on the Vineyard head out around Labor Day. Had he done this in August, he actually could have made this a bigger story. Which would, of course, be unethical – but no more so than it already is.

4) The aforementioned pearl-clutchers on the left are calling this a political stunt, using illegal aliens as pawns. That argument is not without merit. But it’s curious that they didn’t seem to care much when the border states were bearing the brunt of hundreds of thousands of illegals by themselves. Which is… unethical.

DeSantis’s move, though it is funnier and more diabolical (can something be ethical and diabolical?), has to be considered in the same category as the busloads of illegals that were sent to the “sanctuary cities” of New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The original idea was the inspiration of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, or a particularly creative advisor.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it unethical for the governors of Texas and Florida to be sending illegal immigrants to ostentatiously progressive destinations?

I think it’s a close question, an ethics final exam-worthy question. From a Golden Rule perspective, I don’t even know how to analyze it. If you were an illegal immigrant, would you rather be stuck in Florida or, as Arthur in Maine describes it, in the richer, more kindly, needy for gardeners and child-care environs of Martha’s Vineyard, where the Obama roam? [ The Babylon Bee: “Martha’s Vineyard Resident Calls Police To Report A Hispanic In The Neighborhood Not Operating A Leaf Blower.”] Clearly Kant would find the tactic unethical: it is using human beings as political pawns and props. But John Stuart Mill? Boy, I don’t know: this sure looks like an example of a societally beneficial trade-off. The hypocrisy of the progressive “open borders” push has been spectacularly exposed: illegal aliens are welcome, as long as they are far, far away. After all Donald Trump’s complaints about illegal immigrants were used as proof that he(and all of his supporters too) was a racist and xenophobic by the Axis of Unethical Conduct, the hysterical reactions of the mayors of NYC, D.C. and Chicago were flaming beacons of self-indictment. (Update: On the Vineyard, Dukes County Emergency Management officials declared the arrival of 50 “migrants” a “humanitarian crisis.” Massachusetts has called out the National Guard, 150 strong, of three soldiers for every “undocumented worker.”) The initial reaction of the conservative media was, “Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier?” Good question.

Meanwhile, the “mainstream media” segment of the Axis isn’t quite sure how to play (that is, “distort” or “spin”) this In today’s Times is a clickbait headlined op-ed: “The Martha’s Vineyard Migrant Stunt Is Making One Truth About This Country Clear.” I expected a diatribe about racism and semi-fascists, but no. The piece doesn’t discuss the factors involved in “the stunt” at all. The big truth is that our immigration system is screwed up. Gee, ya think? What an insight! I ran a public policy research project for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that concluded that 40 years ago.

It’s hard for me to find fault with DeSantis’s statement about the Martha’s Vineyard stratagem:

“We are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures. Every community in America should be sharing in the burdens. It shouldn’t all fall on a handful of red states….We take what’s happening at the southern border very seriously, unlike some, and unlike the President of the United States who has refused to lift the finger to secure that border.”

Or Kamala Harris, who says that the border is “secure.”

It’s especially had to fault DeSantis when Martha’s Vineyard residents react like this:

20 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Those Illegal Immigrant Exporting “Stunts”

  1. If we consider progressive taxation a means to achieve fair share payments ethical, then so too should be the burden sharing of all government policies. This is especially true when the burden is being shifted away from the ones picking up the lion’s share of the burden and placing squarely on the shoulders of those advocating for increasing the burden but not sharing any of the costs.

    What I want to know for those “Fair Share” acolytes is what is the fair share social burden to of those receiving substantial transfers from public sources to society at large. You would think they would have a significant non-cash burden to improve themselves and the communities in which they reside to elevated themselves and away from public assistance.

  2. Well, surely the wealthier citizens of these sanctuary cities don’t mind paying “a little bit more” to ensure that these plucky undocumented migrants (their words, not mine) are welcomed where lesser-educated, lesser-cultured white people aren’t.

    I think the stunt is funny. I think it’s appropriate. I can’t determine the ethics of this stunt. If DeSantis or Abbott knew that the evacuees would not be cared for, I would argue it was unethical. I don’t believe transporting suffering people someplace else to score political points is ethical. Yet there’s evidence that both parties are using these folks to score points at the expense of the other.

  3. It’s quite oboviously a political ploy. I don’t trust DeStantis enough to say he isn’t using people as a means to an end. That in itself should make it unethical.

    However, if he is moving them towards better resources, then I would say its not.

    However, they should be sent home. If we have the money to move to to x, why don’t we send them to z?

    • Why don’t we send them to Z? Because the illegal immigrants don’t want to go to Z; only the Feds have the authority to forcefully remove people from the country. I’d hate to see this get to the Supreme Court, where the US Constitution lays border control as solely under the control of the Federal Government.
      The States are left to deal with the illegal aliens that the Feds don’t detain or deport. Some states, counties, cities have passed legislation to refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities, some going so far as to interfere with those duties.
      If the Feds drop illegal immigrants into jurisdictions that don’t share those ideals, I think it’s perfectly ethical to transport them to jurisdictions that do, provided the illegal immigrants consent to being relocated to the places where “no human is illegal.”
      Unless, of course the illegal immigrant welcome mat is just virtue signaling bullshit. Play stupid games, etcetera.

  4. I think it’s a quiz because we know it can be ethical, depending on the implementation, but we also kind of cringe in that comedy-show way where, yeah, it’s funny, but I can see why this is problematic.

    The truth is, if FL and TX had approached this with an intent of fixing the resource problems and making a sustainable immigration policy, they could have avoided a lot of the criticism while obtaining the same result, if not a solid platform position to defend their actions.

    Take 2 scenarios. In the first, the governor promises people who board a bus a welcoming community with shelter and jobs, awaiting their arrival, only to be dumped on a random street corner with no one who speaks their language in sight. In the second, the governor asks for volunteers who have no attachments where their preferred destinations in the country are to begin their life. Some immigrants opt for cities where the believe they might have family, friends, or fellow countrymen. Some want a fresh start based on nothing because that’s what they have and that’s what they expect.

    The second scenario is more palpable because the immigrants had a say in their destiny.

    The first is aptly described as a “stunt”. It was designed not to be effective, but to draw attention and stir conversation.

    We are where we are, but I think if the Governors choose to continue this program, they need to put some intellectual moxie into this. Now that their relocation programs have been adequately marketed, they need to ask for volunteer communities to raise their hands. They need to carefully plot all of the sanctuary locations that indirectly and unwittingly raised their hands in the past. They need to assess immigrants as they arrive, before they establish their American life so it’s less about “relocating” and more about “finishing the journey”. They need to consider what is best for each immigrant based on skills matching and the immigrant’s wishes. Ultimately, no community should be off limits, red or blue, even considering that TX and FL might be the best for some of them, but certainly that HI, PR, and AK might be best as well. Finally, they need to give those destination communities a “heads up”. Maybe just a timeframe and general location for the less voluntary, but if a community steps up and works with the Gov, they can plan and coordinate a specific day and time.

    Let’s face it – the southern border is a humanitarian crisis that the Federal Government refuses to acknowledge or control. If that’s the case, then we can step up in certain ways to make the crisis less intense on the primary affected communities and share the resources of the rest of the nation.

  5. Ethical.

    To reach this conclusion, you have to look at the roles of the various actors.

    The Federal Government. The Feds are specifically empowered to address immigration. This makes perfect sense. You cannot have 50 different state policies on immigration AND Full Faith and Credit. This is an area where a National policy is needed. In this regard, the Federal Government is failing in its duties. And, not only is it failing in its duties, it is deliberately abdicating its duties by shipping people to various states. Add to that that it is being done clandestinely. All of this is bad.

    Sanctuary Cities/States. Cities and States have no business adopting immigration policy. However, a sanctuary city/state essentially does just that. And, not only that, they adopt a policy that is contrary to the Federal Laws. Now, arguably, they could be saying, “we have no business enforcing immigration laws, so we are not even going to ask that question.” That is potentially a fair argument that works in other areas of law enforcement. However, having the policy is one thing; advertising the policy is a little something else. It is almost done (or explicitly done) to incentivize law-breaking. It condones it, thereby encouraging it.

    Then, you have people like DeSantis and Abbott. Texas can’t really secure its own border because it is a federal issue (again). If Texas tried, the feds would likely step in. So, they can’t prevent the flow and they can’t deport people. But, they also do not have to becomes a sanctuary state; they do not have to accept and condone what is going on. While the feds are shipping people all over the country under the cover of night, Texas and Florida are shipping people out in broad daylight to places where they believe the immigrants would be welcome. And, in doing it this way, they shine a light on the incompetence of the federal government. Whatever flaws in their actions, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to handle this situation, which involves several competing issues.


  6. I really don’t think this is a close question. In fact, I don’t even consider it a matter of ethics. Let’s recap:

    The ethical thing to do about illegal immigrants generally is to send them back to their country of origin. That’s generally what our immigration laws require. President Biden has refused to enforce the laws Congress has passed on what he claims are “humanitarian” grounds. So the primary ethics corrupter in this matter is the Biden administration for flatly refusing to enforce laws he is duty-bound to execute. Others are also blameworthy, but let’s deal with the big chunks.

    So the administration has been using dead-of-night flights to relocate some of the illegals in other locations, primarily in the South, Midwest, and upstate New York — mostly in jurisdictions governed by his political opponents. This is unethical also, because leveraging a crisis to punish those who didn’t vote for you is just plain wrong. I say “punish,” because said illegals are mostly supported by state and local programs. So the American citizens in jurisdictions that he considers political enemies, and who largely oppose his lack of immigration enforcement get to “reap the whirlwind,” as it were, and pay the freight for his policies. Unethical.

    More to the point, we have heard of no Biden flights to Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Baltimore, Boston, or other ostentatiously liberal jurisdictions who purport to support Biden’s laisssez-faire approach to illegal immigration. These are places which have announced that illegals are welcome, yet somehow they end up in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Pennsylvania and other places actively hostile to Biden’s policies and to people who attempt to illegally immigrate.

    There is no ethical command that people so abused acquiesce. In fact, it is unethical of the leadership of states so targeted to look the other way and inflict this hardship on their citizens. Under normal circumstances, I’d say using illegals as political pawns is unethical, but surely those of us who oppose Biden’s lawless actions have no duty to absorb the lion’s share of the cost of it.

    This has, in my view, moved beyond ethics. It is pure politics. The people who are here illegally should have no complaints about where they go, because… illegally! They are ethically estopped from complaints about which jurisdictions accept them, and which reject them. Since liberal jurisdictions have issued statement after statement pronouncing themselves sanctuaries, I think those are the jurisdictions that should receive every single one of the illegal immigrants. It’s more fair to the illegals because the jurisdictions claim to welcome them, and it’s equally fair to those who manifestly do not.

    In short, DeSantis and Abbott’s flights are better for everyone involved. The jurisdictions they are moving illegals to ostensibly want them, and the jurisdictions they are shipping them from do not. Win-win.

  7. The most interesting part of these moves is that they wouldn’t work as political stunts if the receiving communities didn’t freak out and lose their shit over what is just a tiny fraction of the daily traffic of illegal border crossings showing up in their neighborhoods. It only works because it exposes the rank hypocrisy and NIMBYism of the leaders and some residents of “sanctuary” localities. In that way, it is almost a beautiful work of performance art. If the mayors of New York, DC, and Chicago hadn’t acted like their new guests were contagious lepers infested with bedbugs and plague, and instead at least pretended to welcome them, this wouldn’t be such a big news story.

    Ethics-wise, I’m stumped as to how to call this one, though. Is it possible for an ethical result to come out of a chain of hundreds of unethical actions? The end result is that they wind up in a place that has more support for them than some tiny Texas or Arizona border town, and they all apparently voluntarily agree to these relocations. Aside from the political machinations (and ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t be allowed to stay in America without going through the proper immigration process in the first place), that is the best possible outcome for them, is it not?

    That photo above puts the lie to the idea that all of these folks are walking hundreds or thousands of miles to escape oppression and poverty and reach the promised land of America. Look at the shoes…
    Someone is paying to transport those “migrants” to the US border.

  8. I think there are a few particular details which determine whether this tactic is ethical or unethical. In the Martha’s Vineyard example, the migrants were not told where they were going, and Martha’s Vineyard were ALSO not told they’d be coming.
    I find this to be unethical. I agree with Glenn that illegal immigrants are estopped from complaining about where they are sent, but there should be no need to lie. If we’re talking about illegal immigrants or other migrants who are wards of the state, then just escort them onto the plane. If they do have some legal autonomy, then tell the truth: “There are more and better facilities at Martha’s Vineyard, and we’ve got a plane ready to take you.” Same goes with giving the recipients of these people a head’s up. Those who get stuck making arrangements for these incoming migrants aren’t necessarily the sanctuary city/pro-open borders politicians, they’re relief workers. It’s not fair for them or the migrants to suffer for the sake of making a political point. Also, why Martha’s Vineyard? Is there an actual logistical reason for sending people there, or did DeSantis just want to get the rich liberal residents on record saying, “Are there no workhouses, are there no prisons…”?

    I like the IDEA behind sending illegal immigrants to self-declared sanctuary states and cities (assuming they can’t just be deported), but I think it should be easier for all involved. Give the sanctuaries advance notice so they can prepare. If they can manage the flow…great, problem solved! If not, then they have that much more incentive to draft and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

    • I’m with you completely. I’m also on board with the overall idea of sending illegal immigrants to other jurisdictions, but from what I gather (and I’m trying hard to gather information from a variety of sources), in at least this specific instance, the relocated Venezuelans were asylum seekers who had legit DEA appointments, were listed as residing at shelters far from Martha’s Vineyard (and had to report to DEA offices near their listed residences) and, as Gamereg pointed out, were deceived about where they were going and what welcome they could expect.
      There are certainly some who overall object to the relocation/busing “stunt”, but I’m against these specific acts of cruelty (if they are true).

  9. War is unethical because innocent people are harmed. If there seems to be no effective option, NOT going to war against those causing harm is more unethical. This is war.

  10. DeSantis’ motives are altruistic.
    He is a good guy providing a helping hand because the illegals would be inbound somewhere anyway.
    The compassionate caring Gov. is simply placing them in self-declared sanctuary cities where they should be very welcome and receive superior care. That is an ethical good thing.

  11. In many ways this situation reminds me of the stories of the California-bound pioneers who crossed the country to find a better opportunity. In the 1850s people helped others settle in their new homes–they shared their recent good fortune with those just arriving. However, the burden didn’t fall on the same people year after year–it transferred through the population in a fair manner. From this perspective, DeSantis and Abbott are simply saying to the rest of the country, “Now it’s your turn”. Fairness is always ethical, no?

  12. I have no difficulty in attributing these actions of DeSantis and Abbott as being ethical and well-placed. I also agree with one commentator who noted the may have been ill-timed. The height of summer would have been more effective. In days of yore, the Army had the slogan “Be All You Can Be”. It suggested that being in the Army you will have the opportunity to achieve your desired goals. All these sanctuary cities, states, and pro-illegal immigrant altruistics now have been given the opportunity to “Be All they can Be.” I have yet to read that the gates of the mansions with many rooms have been opened up to the migrants. Nor do I see pictures of Michele Obama feeding them her infamous school lunches

  13. This article asks: Is it unethical for the governors of Texas and Florida to be sending illegal immigrants to ostentatiously progressive destinations?

    The Martha’s Vineyard progressive elites are horrified at the presence of 50 smelly unwashed illegals in their opulent playground but completely comfortable with El Paso being overrun with thousands sleeping and crapping on sidewalks amid self generated squalor. These Vineyard illegals were quickly expelled with the excuse they had no facilities to care for them. Neither does El Paso, but these elites don’t care because they only welcome illegals when the stay far away from them.

    Meanwhile, biden and obama were/are both engaged in flying/busing illegals to all corners of the country usually in the dead of night to avoid publicity. They call it the “refugee resettlement program”, and it only goes to red states. And this has been going on for years.

    To answer the question: The government’s border conduct is both unethical and illegal, but I see nothing unethical about states ridding themselves of illegal aliens that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    • This just in:
      The pure, spotless, and heretofore uncontaminated Vineyard elites’ (notsosecretanymore) motto of NIMBY has recently encountered an active challenge to one critical component of their Mission Statement. Evil conservative governors responsible!
      Vote Democrat in November to remain comfortable and safe. Give generously, our work is not done…

    • The absurd claims that a popular resort location, in the off season, lacks the facilities and infrastructure to deal with 50 people can just be added to the long list of gaslighting lies from this administration and its enablers. That many of their media toadies help to affirm and spread this lie just further confirms their corruption. They deserve no quarter.

  14. Here’s a modest proposal: I believe it would be open to signatories of the Svalbard Treaties, like Australia and the U.S.A., to send undocumented arrivals to centres set up there for processing, and that that might be a power reserved to the states of the U.S.A. in relation to processing for state-level benefits.

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