Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials are facing a class action lawsuit filed by migrants who were flown to Massachusetts last week.
The case, filed in the District of Massachusetts Tuesday, names the State of Florida, the Department of Transportation, its secretary, Jared W. Perdue, as well as the governor – both in their official and personal capacities.
A Texas sheriff on Monday said he is launching a probe against Florida over the transportation of migrants in his county to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis and others “designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.”
The lawsuit alleges that unidentified “Doe Defendants,” collaborating with the named defendants, identified and targeted class members by “trolling streets outside of a migrant shelter in Texas and other similar locales, pretending to be good Samaritans offering humanitarian assistance.”
DeSantis sent two planes full of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas last Wednesday as part of his pledge to drop off illegal immigrants in liberal states. Martha’s Vineyard is famously known as a playground of rich progressives, including former President Obama, who bought a multimillion-dollar house there in 2019.
“So the groups in Texas that we’ve identified, the majority if not all of the individuals that originated in Texas and ended up on the flight to Martha’s Vineyard were indeed homeless, hungry, sleeping outside in parking lots,” Florida officials said. “Many have been in a shelter at some point previously and had been kicked out, did not have a place to go, and essentially we’re wandering homeless along the border.”
Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)
DeSantis proposed Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard as a destination for such migrants, but his office explained at the time that they could also be sent “to other ‘progressive’ states whose governors endorse blatant violations of federal immigration law.”
DeSantis’ office later said the migrants had been given more options to succeed in Massachusetts.
“Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless, and ‘left to fend for themselves,'” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said. “Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected.”
The Venezuelan migrants who were flown to the wealthy Massachusetts island from San Antonio on Wednesday said they were told they were going to Boston. Julio Henriquez, an attorney who met with several migrants, said they “had no idea of where they were going or where they were.”
He said a Latina woman approached migrants at a city-run shelter in San Antonio and put them up at a nearby La Quinta Inn, where she visited daily with food and gift cards. She promised jobs and three months of housing in Washington, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, according to Henriquez.
Salazar said the migrants had been “preyed upon” and “hoodwinked.”
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