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Migrants Transferred to Martha’s Vineyard Say They Were Duped in Lawsuit Against Gov. Ron DeSantis

A group of Venezuelan migrants filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Florida officials who took credit for taking them to Martha’s Vineyardclaiming they were lured onto flights through gifts and bogus offers of jobs and services.

Three immigrants from Venezuela represented by civil rights attorneys in Massachusetts accused DeSantis of violating various federal laws and the U.S. Constitution and asked the federal district court in Boston to bar Florida from “inducing immigrants to travel across state lines through fraud and misrepresentation.

The Venezuelan asylum seekers also asked the court to award them and several dozen other migrants who flew to Martha’s Vineyard last week monetary compensation for the emotional trauma they say they suffered as a result of being transported to the Massachusetts island.

The class action lawsuit, which seeks to cover the approximately 50 migrants brought to Martha’s Vineyard, alleges that an unknown person gained the trust of migrants in Texas by offering them McDonald’s gift cards, free hotel rooms and assistance in getting them to a destination. where they would find employment, housing and other services.

Migrant Flights Stir Fight Against Immigration


The lawsuits accuse the person, who the migrants say identified as “Perla,” of “trolling” the streets outside a San Antonio migrant shelter to identify and befriend Venezuelan asylum seekers, who had been released and authorized to seek asylum by federal authorities. officials along the southern border.

After gaining the trust of a few dozen migrants, the suit alleges, “Perla” placed them in hotel rooms for a few days and then facilitated their transportation to an airfield, where they boarded flights that would eventually take them to Martha’s Vineyard.

But the suit says the immigrants were told they would be taken to Washington, DC or Boston. The migrants, according to the lawsuit, were also provided with folders that included brochures on the services Massachusetts offers to refugees, even though the migrants had not been resettled through the US refugee program.

It was only after the planes took off that the migrants were told their final destination was Martha’s Vineyard, according to the lawsuit.

Upon landing on the island of Massachusetts, the migrants were shocked. Some of them, the suit says, tried to call and text “Perla” but received no response. One migrant, known as Jesus Doe, sent “Perla” a voice message, saying: “A question, what institution are we supposed to look for? We arrive and nobody says anything.”

A Venezuelan mother traveling with her husband and 11-year-old son said she “felt helpless, let down and desperate” after arriving in Martha’s Vineyard. The mother, known as Yanet Doe in the lawsuit, said she began to cry.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based organization, says the migrants “experienced cruelty similar to that from which they fled” in Venezuela, which has seen millions of its citizens flee in recent years. recent years due to economic collapse and repression. government.

Migrants leave Martha’s Vineyard for a military base


“The defendants manipulated them, stripped them of their dignity, deprived them of their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process, and equal protection under the law, and impermissibly interfered with the federal government’s exclusive control over immigration to further an objective illegal and a personal political interest”. agenda,” the lawyers wrote.

The decision to send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which sent state and local authorities scrambling to find shelter, food and other accommodations for unexpected arrivals, drew sharp criticism from advocates for asylum seekers, the Biden administration and Democratic officials, who denounced it as a dehumanizing political spectacle.

On Monday, the Texas Bexar County Sheriff said his office had started an investigation in the Florida transportation tactic, referring to the affected migrants as victims who had been lured onto the flights. Advocates and some Democrats have called on the Justice Department to conduct a similar investigation.

But DeSantis has defended his actions, echoing the arguments of other Republican governors who have said Democratic-led cities and states should have welcomed immigrants because their jurisdictions have declared themselves sanctuaries for immigrants living in the country without legal status. .

Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the allegations in Tuesday’s lawsuits. For days they have not answered several questions about the information provided to the migrants who were transported to Martha’s Vineyard.

Like DeSantis, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have also been migrant transport from the US-Mexico border to Democrat-controlled cities. Since April, Texas has bused more than 11,000 migrants to Washington, DC; New York; and Chicago Arizona, meanwhile, has sent more than 1,800 migrants to DC

The 50 Venezuelan migrants who flew to Martha’s Vineyard last week were transported to Joint Base Cape Cod, where they have been receiving shelter, legal advice and other services provided by Massachusetts state officials.

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