Venezuelan migrants who flew to the posh Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his transportation secretary for committing a “fraudulent and discriminatory plan” to relocate them.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, alleges that the migrants were told they were going to Boston or Washington, “which was completely wrong,” and that they were instigated with perks such as $10 McDonald’s gift cards.
“No human should be used as a political pawn,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which seeks class action status in the lawsuit filed on behalf of several migrants who were on board previous flights. week and Alianza Americas, a network of interest groups.
The DeSantis office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, which also named Secretary of Transportation Jared W. Perdue as a defendant.
The lawsuit alleges that migrants were tricked into crossing state lines under false pretenses, a rule some Democratic officials are using to push for a federal investigation.
On Monday, Javier Salazar, the sheriff of Bexar County, which also includes San Antonio, opened an investigation into the flights, but the elected Democrat did not say what laws may have been broken. California Governor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, whose district also includes San Antonio, have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation.
There was much guesswork on Tuesday among government officials, lawyers and journalists about DeSantis’ next move, in keeping with the element of surprise he and another Republican governor, Greg Abbott of Texas, have been trying to achieve by transporting migrants across the country to Democratic strongholds. and to fly. with little or no notice.
Asked Tuesday about speculation that DeSantis may be sending migrants to his home state of Delaware, President Joe Biden said: “He should come to visit. We have a beautiful coastline.”
DeSantis declined to confirm speculation, based on flight-tracking software, that more migrants were on the way. He again defended his decision to fly about 50 Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard, saying their decisions were completely voluntary and, with no evidence, that they were in a sorry state when Florida got involved.