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DeSantis administration calls lawsuit over Martha’s Vineyard migrant flights ‘political theater’

Venezuelan migrants transported to Martha’s Vineyard by Governor Ron DeSantis have filed a class-action lawsuit in a Massachusetts federal court.

The migrants are asking for a permanent injunction that would stop state governments like Florida from moving any more migrants around the country.

Florida wasn’t the first to do so, but the migrants’ attorneys said in a virtual press conference Wednesday that Florida’s actions were essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal is the Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

The firm is representing a portion of the 50 migrants transported from Texas to Florida and then onward to Martha’s Vineyard in their class-action lawsuit.

Espinoza-Madrigal argued Florida and other states like Texas and Arizona have overstepped their authority by shipping migrants throughout the country.

“Because the defendants specifically intervened in the orderly administration of federal immigration law,” said Espinoza-Madrigal.

The class-action lawsuit not only seeks to bar future transport of migrants but also asks for damages to be paid to the migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard.

The migrants’ attorneys argue they were deceived with false promises.

“DeSantis and other scheme organizers induced our clients to travel with promises of employment, housing and immigration assistance,” said Mirian Albert, a staff attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights.

The DeSantis administration has responded to the lawsuit, asserting the migrants signed consent forms agreeing to the journey and calling the lawsuit ‘political theater’.

“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,” ((correct capitalization on coyotes unless the emailed statement is correctly represented here)) said DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin in an emailed statement.

But the migrants’ attorneys argue the Spanish translation of the consent forms was incomplete and misleading.

“How the relocation would occur, and where they would go were not included in the forms. Especially in the Spanish translation portion,” said Espinoza-Madrigal.

The migrant flight is also becoming a new issue in the race for governor.

Former Florida Governor and Congressman Charlie Crist also held a virtual press conference Wednesday, condemning his opponent for the move, calling it ‘inhumane’.

Crist argued DeSantis violated state and federal law by transporting the 50 migrants from Texas into Florida and onto Martha’s Vineyard.

He also called the flight a ‘political stunt’ intended to shift the focus of the race off of abortion.

“That was inconvenient for him because he’s spent the last few months trying to avoid talking about his ban. So, instead, he decided to change the subject. He didn’t care that Florida taxpayers and refugees fleeing socialist dictatorships would pay the price,” said Crist.

We reached out to the DeSantis campaign for comment on Crist’s remarks but didn’t hear back, but in the statement issued in response to the class action lawsuit, the Governor’s Press Secretary addressed the decision to facilitate the flights.

“Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts. It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours,” said Griffin.

According to the migrants’ attorneys, they’ve been transported to a military base in Cape Cod and are receiving pro-bono assistance from immigration attorneys.

They scored their first victory in federal court already, with a federal judge agreeing to allow the migrants named in the case to remain anonymous.

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