LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP, NJ – Could New Jersey be the next drop-off point for illegal migrants being shipped across the country by governors in Texas and Florida? Last week, Governor Phil Murphy declared his state, a self-declared sanctuary state is ready for them and will welcome them with open arms.
“New Jersey stands by our nation’s values which welcome those seeking a better life with not just open arms but, even more importantly, with open hearts,” the governor said this week.
In the aftermath of the Biden administration’s blunderous departure from Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan refugees were housed at the nearby Joint Base MDL in a massive effort to provide shelter and rehome thousands of people caught up in America’s botched exit from a twenty-year war in their country.
If America is the melting pot of the world, New Jersey has always been the engine that powered that melting pot. Since the earliest days of America, immigrants have settled in New Jersey, making it one of the most diverse states in America.
Most don’t know this, but the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are located in New Jersey state waters, not New York.
Ellis Island immigrants made their way into America through New Jersey. Many settled in New Jersey, and others moved to New York and other destinations. Back then, they did it legally. Today, the migrants are coming over the country’s southern border illegally.
But can New Jersey take in plane loads of migrants dropped off at Newark Airport, Mercer County Airport, or Atlantic City Airport from Texas and Florida?
We proposed this question a few days ago. The Murphy administration listened because Trenton insiders say the governor’s office is starting to plan for a what-if scenario.
That scenario could include Joint Base MDL, which straddles the rural counties of Burlington and Ocean.
That also raises many concerns for residents who already have concerns about where to house them. Housing in Ocean County is at a premium, and Americans who live and work at the shore have a tough time finding affordable housing as it stands now.
In 2021, the Department of Defense launched Task Force Liberty at the base, housing as many as 10,000 Afghan refugees. Closer to the home of Governor Phil Murphy is the former Fort Monmouth military installation.
Plenty of the base’s former enlisted barracks still stand on the site, but are they up to par to house many migrants?
We reached out to Christina Pushaw, spokeswoman for Florida Governor Ron Desantis, but she did not respond to whether or not New Jersey is on the governor’s flight schedule. Governor Murphy has been highly critical of DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s policies on everything from COVID-19 to LGBTQ issues to immigration. However, Murphy and New Jersey are far removed from the border states who have seen over 2,000,000 illegal migrants enter the United States over the past year.
Murphy criticized DeSantis after just 50 migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard last week and said he would gladly welcome immigrant flights from Texas and Florida with open arms.
“I am outraged at Governor DeSantis’ heartless attempt to exploit vulnerable Venezuelan migrants in a political stunt designed only to improve his standing among his right-wing followers. It is sad to see him joining Texas Governor Abbott in this callous race to the bottom. This act cries out for Congress to work together on comprehensive immigration reform which treats everyone who wishes to be part of our family with rightful respect and dignity.”
“The last people flown into the Joint Base are no longer there, and nobody knows where they went. That prospect is concerning. We welcome anyone into Jackson as long as they’re legal and law-abiding citizens,” Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina said, whose hundred-square mile town is New Jersey’s third largest. “We have nowhere to put them. Ocean County has nowhere to put them.”
Local officials in Ocean County don’t agree with the governor.
In nearby Toms River, one of the largest towns by population in New Jersey, Mayor Maurice Hill says his town has no place to put them either.
“Toms River is not a sanctuary city, so I doubt Governors DeSantis and Abbott would bus anyone here,” Hill said. ” In the unlikely event that a charter flight arrives at Lakewood airport or the Joint Base with illegal immigrants destined for Toms River, I would meet the plane on the tarmac, give every passenger a box of donuts from Ob Co’s and a sweatshirt from the Let’s Go Brandon store. I would then give their bus driver directions to the White House with my compliments to the president.”