Migrants’ lawyers call for criminal investigation into DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt

Lawyers for Civil Rights organisation is representing more than 30 Venezualans dumped on island by GOP governor

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Sunday 18 September 2022 22:39 BST
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Lawyers representing many of the Venezuelan migrants flown on two planes to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have called for a criminal investigation into the Republican publicity stunt.

The organisation Lawyers for Civil Rights has called on probes to be launched by both federal and state governments into the widely-condemned incident.

It is representing more than 30 of the undocumented migrants who were dumped on the upscale island off the coast of Massachusetts where Barack Obama has a $12m home.

Lawyers for Civil Rights has now written to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and US Attorney Rachael Rollins calling for them to investigate the “shameful political stunt.”

“Individuals, working in concert with the Florida governor, made numerous false promises to our clients, including of work opportunities, schooling for their children and immigration assistance, in order to induce them to travel,” wrote Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director, and Oren Sellstrom, litigation director.

“It was only when the flight was in mid-air that they were informed they would be flown to Martha’s Vineyard, rather than to Boston as many had been told.

“Once the planes landed, those who had induced our clients to travel under these false pretenses disappeared, leaving our clients to learn that the offers of assistance had all been a ruse to exploit them for political purposes.”

Ms Rollins stated earlier this week that her office would be “looking into” How Mr DeSantis organised the flights without notifying federal officials or those on the island, reported The Boston Herald.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has already called for the Justice Department to investigate Mr DeSantis over the incident.

Following their arrival, the migrants have been rehoused at Joint Base Cape Cod in Barnstable, Massachusetts.

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