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Dems blast Lt. Gov. for saying migrants — even Cubans? — will be bused to Delaware

Florida Democratic Party
Florida Democratic Chairman Manny Diaz (center) with (left to right) immigration attorneys Michelle Canero and Mark Prada, state Sen. Annette Taddeo, Venezuelan-American Caucus leader Adelys Ferro and former Nicaraguan political prisoner Jeffrey Jarquin in front of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Monday.

This story has been updated

Last week Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez seemed to suggest the state will send undocumented Cuban migrants by bus to Delaware. Whether or not she actually meant it, Florida Democrats blasted her remarks on Monday.

On Miami Spanish-language radio, Nuñez — a Republican Cuban-American — was discussing the record number of Cuban migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border, calling it potentially worse than the mass exodus from Mariel, Cuba, in 1980. She pointed out that just about all of them are headed here to South Florida.

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Then she suddenly said that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis "is going to send them, very frankly, to...Delaware," the home state of President Biden.

Nuñez’s spokesperson later insisted on Twitter she was referring not to Cubans, who are usually considered political refugees, but to migrants “entering the [U.S.] illegally.”

But Democrats say the comments reflect what they call DeSantis’ anti-immigration agenda, such as a new law meant to keep undocumented immigrants out of Florida.

The state's Democratic chairman, Manny Diaz, responded to Nuñez’s remarks along with other party leaders, including state Senator and congressional candidate Annette Taddeo, at the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, a symbol of Cuban immigration.

“What [Nuñez] did last week was say… [that] this is something that they have premeditated to do all along," Taddeo told WLRN. "But it’s so sad when they are doing it for political purposes in such a hateful and inhumane way.”

Diaz, a Cuban-American, said he believes Nuñez — who he suggested had left her "compassion...at the door" in exchange for "power" — was in fact including Cuban migrants in her remarks, because they too can be in the U.S. illegally today, despite the more privileged immigration treatment they receive (under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act) because they're fleeing Cuba's communist dictatorship.

UPDATE: After this article was published, Nuñez issued a statement insisting: "Entering the country illegally and fleeing a dictatorship are two different things, and misrepresenting that is offensive."

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.