US: Lawyers for migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard call for criminal investigations

Massachusetts Dems react after DeSantis transports migrants into ritzy Martha's Vineyard: 'Evil and inhumane'

  Massachusetts Dems react after DeSantis transports migrants into ritzy Martha's Vineyard: 'Evil and inhumane' Democratic lawmakers who represent Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts reacted after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew two planes full of migrants into the area.On Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers voiced their criticism online after they were forced to act swiftly to provide them shelter, food, blankets and other necessities to the 50 migrants who now reside in their state.

Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Lawyers representing 30 migrants sent by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Martha's Vineyard last week are calling on federal and state prosecutors to open criminal investigations into what they call a "political stunt."

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland addresses staff on his first day at U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Garland, a one time Supreme Court nominee under President Obama, was confirmed Wednesday by a Senate of vote of 70-30. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI © Kevin Dietsch/UPI U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland addresses staff on his first day at U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Garland, a one time Supreme Court nominee under President Obama, was confirmed Wednesday by a Senate of vote of 70-30. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Lawyers for Civil Rights sent letters Saturday evening to U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins for the district of Massachusetts and the state's attorney general, Maura Healey, asking them to formally open criminal investigations after two chartered planes with 50 migrants onboard were flown Wednesday from Texas and through Florida to Martha's Vineyard.

Democrats seethe over migrant ‘political stunt’ at Martha’s Vineyard

  Democrats seethe over migrant ‘political stunt’ at Martha’s Vineyard Senate Democrats are seething over what they say was a “political stunt” by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who have sent planeloads and busloads of Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and Washington, D.C. Democratic lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with DeSantis and other GOP governors for…Democratic lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with DeSantis and other GOP governors for transporting migrants to the liberal metropolises of Washington, New York and Chicago in an effort to pressure the Biden administration to pay more attention to illegal immigration.

DeSantis has said his state paid for the flights under his so-called immigration relocation program in an effort to "insulate" Florida from the impacts of the federal government's immigration policies.

The attorneys arrived in Martha's Vineyard on Thursday to meet with the migrants, and told the prosecutors in their letters that they "strongly believe" criminal laws were broken.

"Our clients were induced to board airplanes and cross state lines under false pretenses," LCR Executive Director Ivan Spinoza-Madrigal and Litigation Director Oren Sellstrom wrote in the letters. "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 induct them to travel."

Little churches still matter, says Martha's Vineyard pastor who took in migrants

  Little churches still matter, says Martha's Vineyard pastor who took in migrants (RNS) — Houses of worship on Martha's Vineyard have long worked together to meet the needs of their neighbors. So they were ready to spring into action when refugees arrived unexpectedly.The call was from a counselor who sometimes attends St. Andrew’s, the small Episcopal church Seadale pastors in Edgartown, Massachusetts, a popular island tourist destination.

The letters state the migrants were only told mid-flight that they were being taken to Martha's Vineyard and not Boston as they were informed prior to boarding the planes. And once landing on the island, those who convinced them to board the planes "disappeared," the lawyers said, leaving their clients to learn that the offers of assistance were untrue.

"This conduct deprived our clients of their liberty by deception. It interfered with their ability to comply with federal immigration obligations, such as attendance at hearings and check-ins. The perpetrators targeted our clients based on race and national origin in order to make the political point they wanted," the letters said.

The migrants were also put up in hotels until the flights could be coordinated in what the lawyers described as a "conspiracy to deprive our clients of their liberty and civil rights."

Little churches still matter, says Martha's Vineyard pastor who took in migrants

  Little churches still matter, says Martha's Vineyard pastor who took in migrants Editor-at-Large of The Bulwark Charlie Sykes and president of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton discuss the growing calls for the Justice Department to investigate possible kidnapping charges after Republican governors sent migrants to various cities

"They preyed on the vulnerability of our clients -- many of whom had suffered deep trauma in their home countries and on their journeys to the United States -- and exploited this vulnerability to win trust through false promises."

Since Wednesday, DeSantis has repeatedly defended the action with his office telling UPI in a statement over the weekend that the relocation program aims to interdict human smugglers, traffickers and other criminals as well as prevent irregular immigration in Florida.

The Republican governor has said he has $12 million for this relocation plan, with state records indicating Florida paid $615,000 to charter last week's flights.

On Saturday, he said during a press conference that those flown to Martha's Vineyard were identified in Texas as wanting to go to Florida and were offered free transportation to "sanctuary jurisdictions" instead.

He said that there will likely be more migrants sent north by busses and planes.

"I'll tell you this: the legislator gave me $12 million. We're going to be spending every penny of that to make sure that we're protecting the people of the state of Florida," he said.

GoFundMe for Martha's Vineyard migrants sent the cash to a $16m local non-profit instead

  GoFundMe for Martha's Vineyard migrants sent the cash to a $16m local non-profit instead Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Friday pointed out that the $43,000 donated to a GoFundMe for the Venezuelan migrants on Martha's Vineyard was being given to a local group.The migrants were flown to the holiday island from Texas on Wednesday, on flights chartered by Florida's governor Ron DeSantis. On Friday morning, the 50 left Martha's Vineyard, bound for a Cape Cod air base which was better equipped to house them.

The letters were sent by Lawyers for Civil Rights amid mounting calls for DeSantis and others to be prosecuted.

Massachusetts State Rep. Dylan Fernandes said in a statement that he has spoken with Rollins who informed him that she is "pushing" for a response from the Department of Justice on opening an investigation.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom late last week also "strongly urged" Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate if kidnapping and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges could be applied in this case.

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