March 30, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ team lured immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard with $10 McDonald’s gift certificates to gain their trust, a new federal lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights, Boston, on behalf of a class of aggrieved immigrants, including those detained on Martha’s Vineyard, and Alianza America, a network of immigrant-led organizations that support immigrants.

The federal class action lawsuit says unnamed individuals working with the governor identified and targeted immigrants “trolling the streets outside an immigrant shelter” in San Antonio, Texas, “pretending to be Good Samaritans and offering humanitarian assistance.”

The lawsuit added that after the gift certificates were issued, the immigrants were also promised educational opportunities and other assistance if they boarded a plane to another state.

Last week, Mr. DeSantis and his Texas counterpart, Governor Greg Abbott, sent migrants by plane and bus to liberal states to make a political statement about the “historic” crisis at the US border.

The move was attacked by the White House as an “illegal” and political stunt.

The class action lawsuit names Florida Transportation Secretary Jarrod W. Perdue, the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation and Mr. DeSantis along with five unidentified “doe” defendants.

Many immigrants who were previously transported said they thought they were traveling to Boston to get work papers.

On Monday, Texas Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a statement that his office was investigating whether the immigrants were victims of the crime.

“The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation into immigrants who were lured from the Immigrant Resource Center in Bexar County, TX and flown to Florida, where they were eventually released to fend for themselves in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, ” the statement said.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Mr. DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Taryn Fenske, lashed out at the workers who help immigrants with their cases.

“If these workers spent even a fraction of this time and effort on the border, perhaps some accountability would be brought to bear for the Biden administration’s reckless border policies that lure illegal immigrants to make dangerous and often deadly journeys through Central America and upend their lives.” The hands of cartels and coyotes,” he said.

Mr DeSantis has not yet issued a statement on the case.

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