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DeSantis being sued by migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard.
DeSantis being sued by migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

DeSantis sued by migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard

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Boston-based legal advocacy group, Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR), in conjunction with Alianza Americas, filed a class action lawsuit on Tuesday, Sept. 20, calling Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ chartered flights of migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard a “fraudulent and discriminatory” plan to rid of migrants with children as young as two years old without making arrangements for shelter and other resources. 

“No human being should be used as a political pawn in the nation’s highly polarized debate over immigration,” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. 

According to the filing, two charter flights can average around $615,000 – $12,300 per person. Given DeSantis’ position, that is taxpayer money funding the flights. The migrants have since been moved to Cape Cod. 

The lawsuit also names Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and some accomplices as defendants in the suit. 

“Somebody saw fit to come from another state, hunt them down, prey upon them, and then take advantage of their desperate situation just for the sake of political theater, just for the sake of making a statement — I believe people need to be held accountable for it to the extent possible,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters. 

In addition to the lawsuit, Salazar opened an investigation in Texas on Monday, Sept. 19. The investigation is looking into the legality of DeSantis’ latest plane action. The sheriff said that while no specific laws had been broken, his office and team are looking into what Salazar called “an abuse of human rights.” 

Last week, DeSantis joined in on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s migrant trafficking scheme, as he charted a plane for over 50 Venezuelan migrants to be flown to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas. 

In what has been seen as a rebellious action against President Joe Biden and Democrats alike, DeSantis is now possibly facing financial repercussions, according to a new lawsuit. 

“For the governor of Florida to cynically use recently arrived immigrants who have applied for asylum in the U.S., to advance a hate-driven agenda intended to create confusion and rejection throughout the country, is not only morally despicable, but utterly contrary to the best traditions of humanitarian protection embraced by most Americans,” Oscar Chacón, Alianza Americas’ executive director, said in a press release.

In response to the criticism, much like Abbott, DeSantis directed the blame at the Biden Administration.  

“If these activists spent even a fraction of this time and effort at the border, perhaps some accountability would be brought to the Biden Administration’s reckless border policies that entice illegal immigrants to make dangerous and often lethal journeys through Central America and put their lives in the hands of cartels and Coyotes,” DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske told the Florida Standard 

The lawsuit is seeking damages of over $75,000 per person and stops Florida officials from further trying to lure more migrants onto flights. 

“What infuriates me the most about this case is that here we have 48 people who are already on hard times, they are here legally in our country at this point, they have every right to be where they are, and I believe they were preyed upon,” Salazar said in a press conference on Monday.

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