Ryan Wynn ‘23
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.