Legal group files class action lawsuit on behalf of advocacy group and migrants who flew to Martha’s Vineyard

The lawsuit was filed against DeSantis, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, the State of Florida and the State Department of Transportation, according to the release and the lawsuit itself. The lawsuit said, in part, that the defendants defrauded vulnerable immigrants to advance a political motive for chartering two flights carrying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

“No human should be used as a political pawn in the highly polarized debate about immigration in the country,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

The lawsuit alleges several dozen migrants were collected by a woman to “sign a document to receive a $10 McDonald’s gift card” and that she “did not explain what the document stated and that it was not entirely in Spanish.” translated: An entire paragraph on liability and transportation was not translated at all, nor was the language stating the trip from Texas to Massachusetts was to be translated at all.”

One of the plaintiffs in the case, according to court documents, was told by unidentified individuals that “when they first met by leaving Texas, he would be provided with permanent housing, stable employment and assistance with his immigration process.”

Oscar Chacòn, executive director of Alianza Americas, called DeSantis’ flights to Martha’s Vineyard “morally despicable.” Alianza Americas is a network of migrant-led organizations that support immigrants in the US.

Venezuelan migrants stand in front of St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on September 14, 2022.

“That is why we have taken steps to legally challenge what we consider not only a morally reprehensible action, but what we believe to be illegal,” Chacòn said in a statement. “We are committed to doing everything we can to prevent more abuse from newly arrived immigrants, especially asylum seekers who deserve support, protection and recognition for the incredible contributions they make to the US, as well as their loved ones in their home countries.”

In response to the lawsuit, DeSantis’ office reiterated what had been said earlier: the transportation of migrants from Texas 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 refuge and these individuals chose to use charter flights to Massachusetts,” he said. the explanation. read.

The DeSantis office has also released a copy of what they call an “official permission to carry” form, with a redacted signature of someone they believe is a migrant consenting to their flight to Martha’s Vineyard.

Texas Sheriff Opens Investigation into Martha’s Vineyard Incident

Bexar County, Texas, Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters Monday night that his agency will open an investigation into the transport of 48 Venezuelan migrants from the state to Martha’s Vineyard.

Salazar, a Democrat, said Monday that he was aware that a Venezuelan migrant was paid last Wednesday to recruit 50 migrants from an information center in San Antonio, the seat of Bexar County. As such, Salazar said he believes laws have been broken not only in the province, but also on the federal side.

The migrants were flown to Florida under “false pretenses” and then to Martha’s Vineyard.

Lawyers for migrants sent to Martha's Vineyard to look into the provenance of brochures they believe have been distributed among "false pretenses"

The sheriff said they flew to Martha’s Vineyard for “a photo shoot and stranded.” He believes the migrants were “exploited and misled” into making the trip for political poses. The sheriff has spoken with a lawyer representing some migrants to tell firsthand what happened, Salazar told reporters.

The allegations he has heard so far are “disgusting and a violation of human rights,” he said. Salazar said he believes there must be accountability for what happened.

DeSantis, who took credit for arranging the flight of the migrants, told Fox News Monday night that the migrants had not been misled.

“They all signed consent forms to go and then the salesperson doing this for Florida gave them a package with a map of Martha’s Vineyard. It has the number for several services that are on Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis said.

“Why wouldn’t they want to go, given where they were? They were in a really, really bad shape and they needed to be cleaned, everything, treated well,” he said.

The Florida Department of Transportation paid $1,565 million to Vertol Systems, an airline company based in Destin as part of the state’s program to relocate migrants, according to state budget data.

A $615,000 payment was made on Sept. 8, and a $950,000 payment was requested by the state on Sept. 16, budget data shows.

The budget data does not state what kind of “contracted services” Vertol provided to the department, nor is it clear whether the two payments were for two flights to Martha’s Vineyard flown and operated by Ultimate Jet Charters, a separate private jet carrier based in Ohio.

Delaware prepares for possible arrival of migrants

Reports and flight plans suggested that a plane chartered to bring migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was about to bring a group of migrants to Delaware, prompting state officials and volunteers to make preparations Tuesday.

The preparations came after overnight flight tracking sites showed a flight plan submitted to a commercial planner and the Federal Aviation Administration that contained one of the Ultimate Jet charter aircraft used in the Martha’s Vineyard flights that resembled that one. flight. The sites listed a route from Kelly Field in San Antonio to a short stop in Crestview, Florida, and on to Georgetown, Delaware.

Delaware Prepares for Possible Arrival of Migrants After Report of Scheduled Flight from Texas

Salazar, the Texas sheriff’s office, said on Wednesday he would expect another flight on Tuesday, but plans were changed.

“We were told this morning that a flight would arrive in San Antonio and depart with a planeload of migrants to Delaware,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Tuesday. “I understand that we were told at the last minute that the flight had been postponed.”

Salazar said they were given no reason to delay the flight.

Jill Fredel, spokesman for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, said in a news conference Tuesday that they have no reports of migrants arriving at this time. She said the governor’s office has received no help from Florida or Texas, but noted the state is preparing just in case.

According to the governor’s spokesman Emily David Hershman, Governor John Carney’s office also learned of the reports and officials were working to prepare in case migrants arrived unannounced.

“We are coordinating with federal officials and are prepared to welcome these families in an orderly manner in handling their asylum applications,” she said.

Carolyn Sung, Ray Sanchez, Amy Simonson, Paul P. Murphy, Priscilla Alvarez, Steve Contorno, Manu Raju, and Kevin Liptak of CNN contributed to this report.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.