Migrants sue after being flown to Martha’s Vineyard

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration’s failed border policies. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

(NewsNation) — A lawyer Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of several migrants claiming  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis acted in “inhumane and repugnant conduct” when he arranged to have the immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard as alleged “pawns” in a political stunt.

A Boston-based law firm filed the civil suit in Massachusetts federal court on behalf of Alianza Americas, Yanet Doe, Pablo Doe and Jesus Doe — all recent immigrants who fled from Venezuela. The complaint includes allegations of:

  • Fraud and deceit
  • False arrest
  • Violating their right to due process and equal protection
  • Discrimination on the basis or race and national origin
  • Interfering with federal immigration law
  • Conspiring to deprive the migrants of their civil rights
  • Intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress

Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation Jared Perdue, the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation, and five unidentified people listed as “Does 1-5” also are named as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, the Venezuelan immigrants surrendered to federal immigration officials immediately after crossing into the U.S.

They claim they were given $10 McDonald’s gift certificates and were promised that if they boarded airplanes to other states, they would be met with jobs,  housing, educational opportunities and other assistance, according to the lawsuit.

The migrants then boarded private chartered planes costing an estimated $12,300 per passenger. They were told they were going to Boston or Washington, D.C., but instead landed in Martha’s Vineyard, according to the suit.

They’re seeking a class-action lawsuit if the judge agrees, compensatory, emotional distress and punitive damages, and a jury trial.

According to FlightRadar24 and Newsweek, the same aircraft that Florida used to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was again used Tuesday to transport migrants to Delaware, where President Joe Biden owns a home.

NewsNation also called the charter company, which would not comment on the plane or its contents.

At an event Tuesday in Florida, DeSantis shrugged off outrage from Democrats and shifted the blame to Biden.

“He has created the crisis. But now at least we know nobody can deny that there’s a crisis,” DeSantis said. “It will be a big issue in the elections. I can tell you that,” he continued.

The governor’s office later released a statement that read, in part: “The transportation of the immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis. The immigrants were homeless, hungry, and abandoned — and these activists didn’t care about them then. Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts.”

Reporters asked Biden about the situation Tuesday after the president spoke about the DISCLOSE Act.

“He should come visit,” Biden said — seemingly referring to DeSantis — before exiting the room. “We have a beautiful shoreline.”

Border Report

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