DeSantis news latest: Martha’s Vineyard migrant survived torture in Mexico as Delaware flight ‘scam’ revealed

Related video: More Migrants Arrive In D.C. As White House Slams Republican Governors

A group of 48 mostly Venezeulan migrants transported from Texas in a surprise flight to Martha’s Vineyard last week have sued governor Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his administartion for allegedly orchestrating a “fraudulent and discriminatory” scheme.

The class action lawsuit comes as at least two law enforcement agencies are also investigating the governor’s plans for allegedly “luring” migrants with false promises of employment and financial assistance.

After the DeSantis administration dismissed reports of a second flight, this time to Delaware, migrants in San Antonio told the Miami-Herald how they were lured to scheduled flight to the state with false promises of employment and aid before it was abruptly canceled.

In the days after the flights, in interviews and in court documents, stories of the migrants and their harrowing journeys to the US-Mexico border have surfaced, including one man’s alleged torture and abuse at the hands of drug cartels.

Governor DeSantis and his aides have repeatedly defended sending migrants to Democratic-leading states and cities in protest of what they characterise as the president’s “open border” policy.

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DeSantis’s team lured hungry migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift cards, lawsuit says

A federal class action lawsuit filed by civil rights attorneys on behalf of three Venezuelan migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas said unnamed people working with Governor DeSantis identified and targeted migrants by “trolling streets outside of a migrant shelter” in San Antonio, “pretending to be good samaritans and offering humanitarian assistance”.

The lawsuit alleges they were lured to the flights with McDonald’s gift cards and other gift certificates.

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Six unanswered questions about Ron DeSantis’s migrant flights

Who is “Perla” and who convinced migrants to board the flights? Who made the brochures that promised them housing and aid? Could DeSantis face any charges, and will he book more flights? And what happens next for the migrants and their asylum claims?

So much remains unclear about the governor’s flight plans.

We answer what we can here:

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ICYMI: Migrants reveal how they were lured to a canceled flight to Delaware that Florida officials called ‘disinformation’

Operatives allegedly working for Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration left asylum seekers stranded in San Antonio after false promises and a canceled flight to Delaware.

DeSantis officials have largely dismissed that such a flight even existed, but a group of migrants told the Miami-Herald how they were lured to hotel with false promises of opportunies and aid in the state before the flight was abruptly canceled as they prepared to head to the airport.

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ICYMI: Massachusetts members of Congress demand federal probe into funding for migrant flights

Last week, members of Congress representing Massachusetts have asked the US Department of Treasury to investigate Florida’s use of federal aid from Covid-19 relief legislation to “cruelly relocate” migrants from Texas.

As The Independent reported, the $12m state-funded plan to move migrants is supported by “interest earnings associated with the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund,” a part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden, with universal GOP opposition in Congress.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis even criticised the law as “designed basically to bail out the poorly governed states.”

Roughly $350bn in state funding in the American Rescue Plan is intended to support state and local pandemic relief efforts and public health response and to keep government services running against economic strain.

Florida’s budget asserts that the state’s Department of Transportation “may, upon the receipt of at least two quotes, negotiate and enter into contracts with private parties, including common carriers, to implement the program” and “may enter into agreements with any applicable federal agency to implement the program.”

More than $1.5m has been paid to a GOP-connected aviation firm used to charter the flights.

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Tragic photo shows child migrants from Guatemala at US border alone with phone numbers written on shirt

On Wednesday, US border patrol agents encountered two Guatemalan brothers, aged two and six, who had crossed into the US without their families, with the names and phone numbers of their US contacts written on their shirts.

The boys were part of a larger group of 18 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and Cuba encountered by agents near La Grulla, Texas, in the far south of the state in the Rio Grande Valley area.

“Many of the unaccompanied children encountered by Border Patrol are very young and unable to provide names or phone numbers of family members,” the agency said in a news release.

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Massachusetts lawmaker: Migrant families ‘incredibly grateful’ following move to Cape Cod shelter

Massachusetts state representative Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, told The Independent that the Venezuelan immigrants who arrived on the island are “incredibly grateful” for the community support, and are in good health following a move to a larger Cape Cod shelter.

“Everyone’s needs are more than met,” he told The Independent on Thursday, one week after their surprise arrival in the state.

“Every person … has their own space, families have their own space. There’s a lot of access to health care, and including dental health and other types of care, like crisis management and mental health,” he said.

Caseworkers from housing organisations are helping them with longer-term housing solutions, and immigration attorneys also are assisting with their asylum cases and navigating their legal status and resource while in the US.

“The people who are there are in good spirits and good health and are deeply appreciative,” he said.

Several people have moved out of the shelter and headed to New York City, among other destinations, where they have contacts.

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Migrants were injured, kidnapped and victims of abuse, according to volunteers

Venezuelan migrants seeking asylum in the US survived injuries, torture and kidnapping during their dangerous trek to the US-Mexico border, according to volunteers who offered support at a shelter on Martha’s Vineyard.

“What they had to go through is horrible,” according to Sergio Racig, who told the Martha’s Vineyard Times that he spent the night with a group of men at the church where the migrants slept during a a two-night stay on the island after unannounced flights from Texas chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had taken them.

One man was “kidnapped in Mexico,” according to Mr Racig, who described a man with a broken jaw and missing teeth. Another man had injures from climbing a train.

The men were among the group of about 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants who arrived on the island – among kidnapping and trafficking victims, children and other survivors of abuse who have been sent from Texas to cities across the US.

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DeSantis aides said Democrats and the media fell for ‘disinformation’ about the Delaware flights. But migrants said they were left behind

Days after a group of migrants boarded planes chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a woman was recruiting other migrants to board another flight – this time from San Antonio to Delaware.

While the governor was on Fox News defending his Massachusetts scheme, another group of migrants were in their hotel rooms, preparing for what they were told would be a flight to Delaware, where they would receive financial assistance and employment.

The flight was abruptly canceled. Officials and aid groups were standing by all day to welcome migrants they expected to arrive at a small airport in coastal Delaware. DeSantis’s aides said the media and Democrats fell for disinformation and got “punked.”

Migrants, meanwhile, were back to fending for themselves in San Antonio after being lured to hotels with false promises of a fresh start.

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ICYMI: Ron DeSantis chartered migrant flights from GOP donor

An aviation company hired by the administration donated thousands of dollars to Republican causes – including the governor’s campaign and a state lawmaker central to his legislative agenda.

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Beto O’Rourke slams ‘cruel and unkind’ migrant flights

Beto O’Rourke, who will face against incumbent Republican Greg Abbot in the Texas governor’s race this fall, condemned the governor’s “stunts” of sending hundreds of migrants from the state to cities across the Us.

He said: “What I propose is instead of these stunts, which are so cruel and unkind, not just to those migrants, but to those of us who live in Texas, to the border patrol agents, who we put on their backs this entire immigration system that is so badly broken [is] what if instead, we had a Texas based guest worker programme or the ability to join family and not wait 20 years in line?

“What if Texas led the way in rewriting our immigration laws to reflect our values, our interests and our needs, and we said, ‘Look, if you want to come to this country, you must follow our laws’, but our laws will follow our values”. I want Texas to lead on that.”

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