Some of the illegal immigrants sent by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to Martha's Vineyard have filed a lawsuit against him and other state officials. The complaint alleges that the immigrants were deprived of "their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process and equal protection of the law". And he alleges that all of them were brought to the island with "false promises of work" among other things.
DeSantis told Fox News that all of the immigrants "signed consent forms to go and then the flight provider provided them with a packet that had a map of Martha's Vineyard." The Florida governor also confirmed that the flights were financed with funds allocated by the legislature for migrant relocation.
Lawsuit for "false promises
The class action lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) and three unnamed Venezuelans says that several unidentified individuals who said they worked with DeSantis "walked the streets outside a Texas immigrant shelter offering humanitarian assistance.
The complaint adds that DeSantis' alleged workers allegedly deceived illegal immigrants with false promises of jobs, free housing, educational opportunities, assistance, and fast food vouchers. They were then asked if they were willing to board planes to other states such as Boston or Washington, D.C. but ended up on Martha's Vineyard, where they were left without food, water or shelter.
The plaintiff group asks the judge to stop the relocations, declare them unconstitutional and seek a trial in which damages are assessed. It also states that DeSantis and other Florida officials would have "impermissibly interfered with the Federal government's exclusive control over immigration to further an illegal objective and personal political agenda."
Democratic backlash and a sheriff investigating the case
Democrats are pushing the idea that the Florida governor has "kidnapped" immigrants to use them for political purposes. California Governor Gavin Newsom even asked the Attorney General to investigate possible irregularities:
Like millions of Americans, I have been horrified by the images of migrants being bussed and flown across the country to be politically instrumentalized. Clearly, transporting families, including children, across state borders under false pretenses is morally reprehensible, but it may also be illegal.
I strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into possible criminal or civil violations of federal law based on this alleged fraudulent scheme.
On the other hand, a Democratic Texas sheriff named Javier Salazar has already reported that he has opened a criminalinvestigation against DeSantis for "sending 50 immigrants to the island of Martha's Vineyard". Salazar says he will seek to determine "whether the DeSantis Administration lured the immigrants onto the plane under false pretenses."
Someone came from out of state, took advantage of these people, lured them with promises of a better life, which is absolutely what they were looking for.
DeSantis shields his action
DeSantis, defended his decision to send the group of immigrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard amid criticism, a criminal investigation and, now, a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the immigrants. The governor said the flights to "sanctuary states" - led by Democrats - are succeeding in drawing attention to the serious problems at the border:
No one can deny that there is a crisis. At the end of the day, what we are doing is not the ultimate solution. But people's eyes are being opened to what the solution may be.
The governor stated to Fox News that the "immigrants traveled voluntarily."
Clearly, it was voluntary; and all the other nonsense you are hearing is simply not true.... And why wouldn't they want to go, given where they were...? They were in very, very bad shape. There are jobs available on Martha's Vineyard. There's housing available on Martha's Vineyard. If Democratic officials had lived up to what they themselves advertise as a sanctuary city, they could have taken those people in without any problem,
Baker admits island is "not ready"
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (D) agreed with DeSantis by admitting that the "sanctuary state" island is not equipped to receive immigrants:
Despite local mobilization to assist the new arrivals, the island is not equipped to provide permanent housing and state officials have put in place a plan for a comprehensive humanitarian response.
On the other hand, officials offered to send the immigrants "to a new temporary shelter" at Joint Base Cape Cod. In a statement, the governor affirmed that "families will not be separated." It also stated in the text that they would have access to medical care and legal services.