By: Jeffrey Schweers and Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel

In Orlando, Hispanic leaders and advocates for the immigrants expressed their outrage.

“I’m really frustrated, angry, sad and very hurt by what has happened,” said Stephanie Wall, director of operations for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, at a news conference.

Immigrants “come here looking for safety, opportunities, freedom and liberty … because we are also oppressed in our countries,” she said. “We don’t come here to be oppressed again, to be trafficked again.”

The Rev. Dr. Jose Rodriguez, an Episcopal priest, said the migrants were sent to Martha’s Vineyard “not only to cause a scene, but to send a message to other migrants that you are not welcome here.”

Laudi Campo, Florida director of the Hispanic Federation, stressed that the migrants were following the legal process when they came to the U.S. to request protection.

“They are asking for something that is legal,” Campo said. “They are asking for asylum. Some people say, ‘Go through the process.’ They’re going through the process. … Some people say, ‘Get in line.’ They are in line.”

The money for the flights came from a $12 million program approved by the Legislature this year for contractors to move undocumented migrants from Florida to other states.

That funding came from the interest earned on $8.8 billion the state received from Washington for coronavirus recovery efforts, money that immigration advocates and state Democrats said should have been used to help people struggling because of the pandemic.

By erick