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Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard file class action lawsuit against DeSantis

The undocumented migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard the other day filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis along with other Florida officials.

Driving the news headlines: The migrants allege in the complaint they were given misleading information promising cash assistance, employment services and housing assistance, that they called “bold-faced lies.”

  • The nearly 50 migrants, mostly Venezuelan, said these were told these were headed to Boston and Washington, D.C., based on the complaint.
  • They allege Florida officials “manufactured” an “official-looking brochure” using language from the Massachusetts Refugee Resettlement Program to be able to “buttress their false oral representations … in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
  • They escaped a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela limited to DeSantis to utilize them as “pawns in a political stunt,” the complaint states.
  • The migrants, that are being represented by Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights, say they “suffered economic, emotional, and constitutional harms” that total at the least $75,000. They’re also asking the federal court to block DeSantis from repeating his actions.

What else they’re saying: The complaint argues that the Florida officials’ conduct discriminates “based on alienage” and deprives them of the equal protection of laws beneath the 14th Amendment.

  • Florida officials have “intentionally targeted only people who are non-white and born beyond your USA,” they allege.
  • “Defendants’ actions not merely offend all notions of fairness, however they also stripped Plaintiffs of these basic human dignity, in violation of due process.”

Another side: “It really is opportunistic that activists would use illegal immigrants for political theater,” said Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for DeSantis, in a statement to Axios.

  • “If these activists spent a good fraction of the effort and time at the border, perhaps some accountability will be taken to the Biden Administrations reckless border policies that entice illegal immigrants to create dangerous and frequently lethal journeys through Central America and put their lives in the hands of cartels and Coyotes.”
  • Fenske, who attached a redacted consent form for the flight, said it had been a voluntary program that gave the “homeless, hungry, and abandoned” immigrants a “fresh begin in a sanctuary state.”

The picture as a whole: Lawyers for the migrants have asked the Massachusetts attorney general and the government to open criminal investigations in reaction to the transports, that have elicited strong reactions on both sides of the aisle.

Worth noting: American border officials experienced over 2 million encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border up to now this fiscal year setting a fresh record after sustained surges in migration.

Go deeper:

Editor’s note: This short article has been updated with new details throughout.

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