Pawning Off the People: Interstate Trafficking of Migrants and the Homeless  

Ryan Wynn ‘23

Guest Writer

Recently, the administration of Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has deceived migrants from Venezuela seeking asylum at the Texas border into boarding flights to  Massachusetts. The administration had manufactured an assortment of pamphlets promising the  migrants opportunities and resources in Massachusetts. (1) Then, they paid approximately $500,000  to fly the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. (2) Subsequently, DeSantis and his administration have received heavy criticism for their actions. This gesture manipulated migrants as pawns to  demonstrate a political agenda of anti-immigration with xenophobic sentiments. However, this  political tactic was not the first instance of trafficking of peoples within the United States. 

      Across the U.S. since the 1980s, America’s homeless population has been subjected to  local policy of relocation to other cities in different states. Cities created bussing programs as a superficial means “to help people find a permanent place to live by connecting them with  personal support networks.”(3) These programs have been lauded by politicians as being a cost efficient method of addressing homelessness. However, when Mayor Bloomberg of New York  City revitalized the relocation program in 2007, he established a budget of nearly $500,000 for  bussing services alone. (4) Now, these budgets have been raised to include millions of dollars. (5)

    Rather than funding more rehabilitative resources, this funding is utilized to ship the issue  out of the locality. Additionally, these programs have not been successful in providing better economic stability in the relocations. Often, these bussing programs do not ensure that  individuals have stability on the other end. (6) Also, in these programs’ claims of sending them to  “reunite” with families, this neglects how homelessness is a “homegrown” issue in these cities because of socioeconomic crises. (7)

     What does this juxtaposition of these two maltreated demographics reveal about our  politicians and their priorities? Essentially, there are two issues. First, the use of people to  advance a political agenda or self-image. The contemporary neo-liberal politician— encompassing both Democrats and Republicans—is more concerned with maintaining their  hierarchical position than supporting their constituents. They will utilize people as political  pawns in order to gather more support or antagonize the other political party. 

     Second, these political gimmicks contribute to a ‘manufactured ignorance.’ Sending  individuals that require assistance elsewhere does not negate their dire situations. It may reduce the population of these individuals in one area, but these individuals are still going to be plagued  with poverty and homelessness wherever they are trafficked to. This failure of addressing the systemic causes homelessness continuously perpetuates the issue. Further, the funneling of  money towards relocation rather than pertinent social services also perpetuates the growing  homelessness crisis in the nation. 

     The manufacturing of ignorance seeks to promote a blissful, myopic existence. We  currently see this concept in other fields such as environmental issues, unsustainable wages,  rising inflation, etc. Rather than provide concrete, effective, and long-term solutions, our current  political climate is enthralled with promoting an aesthetical imagery of idealized American life  without addressing the dire concerns that plague the people. It appears we want to ignore the  existential issues and have an individualistic perception of enjoying life before imminent  catastrophe. The path ahead is daunting, but in order to mitigate it we must help individuals that  seek our assistance and address the systemic crises that plague our society.


1. Lee, Lloyd. “Florida Officials Made Fake ‘Official-Looking’ Brochure Advertising  Refugee Benefits for Migrants, Lawsuit against Ron DeSantis Says.” Business Insider.  Accessed September 22, 2022. https://www.businessinsider.com/florida-officials-made fake-brochures-for-migrants-lawsuit-ron-desantis-2022-9. 

2. “Martha’s Vineyard Migrant Flights Cost Florida around $500K, Expert Estimates,”  September 17, 2022. https://www.wkbn.com/news/national-world/marthas-vineyard flights-cost-florida-around-500k-expert-estimates/. 

3. Paulas, Rick. “Instead of Helping Homeless People, Cities Are Bussing Them Out of  Town.” Vice (blog), February 13, 2020. https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvg7ba/instead of-helping-homeless-people-cities-are-bussing-them-out-of-town. 

4. Weaver, Matthew. “New York Gives Homeless People a One-Way Ticket to Leave  City.” The Guardian, July 29, 2009, sec. US news.  

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jul/29/new-york-homeless-ticket-leave. 5. “Bussed out: How America Moves Thousands of Homeless People around the Country.”  Accessed September 26, 2022. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng interactive/2017/dec/20/bussed-out-america-moves-homeless-people-country-study. 6. “Bussed Out,” (2017). 

7. Baker, Mike. “Homeless Residents Got One-Way Tickets Out of Town. Many Returned  to the Streets.” The New York Times, September 14, 2019, sec. U.S.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/14/us/homeless-busing-seattle-san-francisco.html.

Categories: Opinions

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