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Delaware prepares for possible arrival of plane carrying migrants from Texas


GEORGETOWN, Del. (CBS) — Organizations and community leaders packed a small Delaware airport on Tuesday as they waited for a plane that many believed would bring migrants. It was originally scheduled to land on Tuesday afternoon, but at this time when or even if it arrives.

The last flight landed at Delaware’s coastal airport around 9:50 p.m. Tuesday, carrying less than 10 people, none of whom were immigrants. But Georgetown’s mayor says if and when the call comes, his town will be ready to welcome anyone in need of a home.

“Last night around 9 or 10 p.m. I started getting texts saying, ‘Hey, do you know this plane is coming in and bringing migrants to Georgetown?'” Mayor Bill West said.

West says since he was first alerted Monday night. he has spent the past 24 hours working with the governor’s office in Dover with local volunteer groups preparing to receive migrants from states like Texas and Florida.

“I heard this morning early, around 35,” West said. “We are not sure about children, adults or families. We prepare for everything.”

Migrants are at the center of a political push by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to draw attention to the Biden administration’s immigration policies, which the president addressed on Tuesday.

“Any comments about sending migrants to Delaware, he should come visit, we have a beautiful coastline,” President Joe Biden said.

Last week, DeSantis sent a migrant plane to Martha’s Vineyard.

The Bexar County Sheriff in Texas is investigating whether it was a felony.

Some migrants claim to have been deceived by false promises of accommodation and employment.

“The people of Delaware welcome visitors to their state,” said Diane Batchik, member of the national board of directors of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. “It’s a welcoming community and there’s already a strong immigrant presence here, so they got it wrong.”

Among those willing to help is Casa de Venezuela Greater Philadelphia vice president Rossana Arteaga-Lopenza.

“I just think it’s really sad that we’re using human lives as a political stunt,” Arteaga-Lopenza said. “It must be sad. We are being manipulated into moving for the convenience of their political gains.”

As the president’s home base became the latest asylum state to make national headlines, the mayor of Georgetown said the people must remain the priority.

“I don’t like it,” West said. “We use people as instruments to get a message across. It’s time for everyone to come to the table and let’s be human about it.”

For now, he says, Georgetown — a predominantly Latino city of 7,200 — is ready and willing to welcome anyone who needs a safe place to stay.

“These people are human beings,” West said. “We have to treat them with respect and show them how Delaware can do it.”

Delaware Gov. John Carney’s office said it had not received any notifications from the governors of Florida or Texas indicating the arrival of migrants, but said the state would not turn away migrants.

“We are ready to meet their immediate needs, housing, shelter, do they need medical attention? Transportation, food,” said Jill Fredel, director of communications for the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services. “We are ready to meet all these needs, and we will do so for as long as it takes.”

At the last check, it remains unclear if and when migrants will be flown to Delaware.


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