For weeks, Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas have been flying and busing undocumented immigrants to Democratic-run states and cities, such as New York and Washington, D.C.

Outside of the right-wing media ecosystem, the trips have mostly flown under the radar – that is, until DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard-bound flight of Venezuelan immigrants made headlines around the world.

It’s tempting to dismiss it all as a mere political stunt. But historian Greta de Jong sees disturbing parallels – in action and rhetoric – to the way some Southern segregationists dealt with Black citizens during the civil rights era. As part of a broader effort to purge their communities of Black Americans, segregationists put them on buses with one-way tickets to Northern cities in what were called “reverse freedom rides.”

“Then, as now,” de Jong writes, “the message was, ‘Here, you love them so much, you take care of them.’”

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Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

An undocumented immigrant from Venezuela kisses the forehead of another immigrant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Dominic Chavez for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott pull from segregationists’ playbook with their anti-immigration stunts

Greta de Jong, University of Nevada, Reno

In the civil rights era, ‘reverse freedom rides’ were more than just a political stunt. They were part of a systematic effort to deprive Black Americans of their livelihoods and force them out.

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