BOSTON (WHDH) – The group of nearly 50 migrants who were dropped off on Martha’s Vineyard last week have filed a class action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and several other state officials, claiming they were lured to Massachusetts under false pretenses, according to court documents.
The Florida governor’s office had claimed it played a role in sending 48 Venezuelans from Texas to Massachusetts via two charter flights that arrived on the island last Wednesday.
“The legislature gave me $12 million,” DeSantis said during a press event last week. “We’re going to use every penny of that to make sure we’re protecting the state of Florida.”
DeSantis also said that this is just the beginning of Florida’s efforts to transport migrants out of Florida and to other parts of the country.
The 35-page lawsuit, filed by several Boston-area attorneys based, focuses on the civil rights of the migrants who have since been moved to Joint Base Cape Cod.
The lawsuit said Gov. DeSantis and those working for him allegedly preyed on the migrants’ most basic needs, offering false promises of help that led them onto planes to Martha’s Vineyard.
The lawsuit comes as officials in Delaware prepare for a possible repeat of the Martha’s Vineyard maneuver, after the White House said it had learned another group of migrants could soon be flown to President Joe Biden’s home state. The Associated Press reported that Gov. DeSantis’s office refused to confirm whether another flight was in the works.
DeSantis, who recently received a standing ovation at a GOP event in Kansas for the migrant moves, has continued to defend the flights to Martha’s Vineyard as a way to ensure incoming migrants do not come to his state.
“Those migrants were being treated horribly by Biden,” DeSantis said at an event on Tuesday. “They were hungry, homeless, they had no opportunity at all. The state of Florida – it was volunteer – offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions!”
An immigration lawyer working with the migrants in Massachusetts also confirmed to 7NEWS that she has been speaking with a sheriff in Texas who announced his office was looking into whether crimes were committed by tricking migrants with false promises. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar (D) has come out against the flights, calling them political posturing.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he approves of the investigation, which comes days after the state called up national guardsmen to assist with moving and connecting the migrants with shelter and other resources.
“It’s up to the authorities on the ground there to figure out what did and didn’t happen,” Baker said. “I am very glad that the sheriff chose to open an investigation. I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Speaking in New Hampshire, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said talk of prosecuting someone for sending the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was “crazy.”
“It’s Joe Biden’s move – more immigrants (move) around this country than Governor DeSantis will ever move around this country,” Pompeo said. “I’m worried about the 50 who came across in the last hour.”
President Biden recently defended his administration’s handling of the migrant surge on the southern border, arguing that circumstances are changing.
“There’s fewer immigrants coming from Central America and from Mexico, this is a totally different circumstance,” Biden told reporters. “What’s on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, and the ability to send them back to those states is not rational.”
This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.
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