Sheriff investigates DeSantis’ migrant flight as attorneys sue, claiming trip was manipulative

Sheriff investigates DeSantis’ migrant flight as attorneys sue, claiming trip was manipulative #Sheriff #investigates #DeSantis #migrant #flight #attorneys #sue #claiming #trip #manipulative Welcome to GistFeed

Texas sheriffs said Monday they would open a criminal investigation into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ immigration flight to Martha’s Vineyard. Even DeSantis defends what he calls a border policy protest.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced the investigation Monday night, saying his office believed migrants transported to Massachusetts on Sept. 14 were lured in under false pretexts. DeSantis denies it.

“What pisses me off most about this case is that there are already 48 people in trouble, right?” Salazar said at a press conference. “They are legally here in the country. At that point they have every right to be where they are and I believe they were ripped off.”

An immigration attorney who works with some of the asylum seekers told ABC News that immigrants were given misleading information, including pamphlets, about the benefits they could receive in Massachusetts.

Civil rights groups representing at least three of the affected immigrants filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against DeSantis and other Florida officials, accusing their clients of using false pretexts as part of a “political stunt.” claimed to have been lured.

The governor defended the immigration dropoff as a protest against President Joe Biden’s immigration policies as border encounters remain at record highs. You have repeatedly claimed to have volunteered to be taken to the Vineyard.

“Given where they’ve been, why wouldn’t they want to go?” he said during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s GistFeed show Monday night. did.”

What potential violations are being investigated?

Salazar said Monday his office paid a “bird’s fee” to entice about 50 Venezuelan immigrants to be taken to Martha’s Vineyard, where they were promised jobs and a better life. said he believed he had been killed.

“It’s likely that the law was broken here in Bexar County, Texas,” Salazar said.

However, he declined to disclose specific laws that he believes may have been violated at the federal, state, or local level.

Immigrants stand outside St. Andrew’s Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on September 14, 2022.

Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via Reuters

He also did not identify any suspects.

“At this point, I have several names of suspects who I believe to be important persons in this case, and I am not going to give them away.” I think people already know who is who, but suffice it to say that we will file this lawsuit.”

“We’re going to discover to what extent the law can hold these people accountable,” he added.

Lawyer says DeSantis brochure was misleading

A lawyer representing immigrants who arrived at Martha’s Vineyard on two charter flights told ABC News that migrants were not technically refugees and the information they were given prior to their travel was misleading. rice field. These people are seeking asylum but have not yet reached that status, lawyers said.

Since 2014, millions of Venezuelans have fled the country, hoping to escape political and economic turmoil. Relations with the U.S. have been strained and have for years been punishing U.S. sanctions imposed against the Venezuelan president. Also, Venezuelans are usually exempt from being speedily deported under Title 42, a Trump-era policy used to speedily deport immigrants.

Ivan Espinoza-Marigal, a leading attorney representing many immigrants, told ABC that most immigrants in their current status are on humanitarian parole and are therefore entitled to the benefits described in the pamphlet they received. He said there was no

“Only those who have already been granted refugee status are eligible,” Aaron Reichlin Melnick, policy director for the U.S. Immigration Service, told ABC News. cannot obtain a work permit for at least six months after applying for asylum.”

DeSantis cites pamphlets distributed by vendors working with the state of Florida to transport migrants as evidence that they are not fooled about where they are going or what is available once they arrive.

“They all signed an agreement to go,” he told Hannity. I gave them a packet with numbers of agencies throughout Massachusetts that deal with refugees.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the midterm primaries. "Keep Florida Free Tour, " August 24, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the midterm primaries during the “Keep Florida Free Tour” in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 24, 2022.

Octavio Jones/Reuters, FILE

Rachel Self, an immigration attorney who assists immigrants arriving on Martha’s Vineyard, said the map in the pamphlet was “cartoon-simple” and shows how immigrants can change their address with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) when they move. said to contain information about

“Even those with the most rudimentary understanding of immigration procedures know that USCIS is not the agency that immigrants have to record their addresses and has nothing to do with their cases, so this is particularly troublesome.

Immigrants who have been granted humanitarian parole and who are filing asylum applications are usually scheduled for a mandatory court hearing in the court closest to where they said they had family members or where they were processed by immigration. I’m here. That means immigrants who go to Martha’s Vineyard unknowingly or under false pretense risk missing court dates and, as a result, may be quickly pursued for deportation.

“The pamphlet is full of lies against this particular group of people. It’s a gross misrepresentation made to further an illegal scheme,” Self, one of the attorneys, told ABC News.

Class Action Filed Against DeSantis

The Civil Rights Lawyers Group (LCR) filed a federal civil rights class action lawsuit Tuesday against DeSantis, Florida Transportation Secretary Jared Purdue “and his accomplices.” If the appropriate resources are not in place.

The group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of at least three affected people they say were “targeted and induced” to board the plane on false pretexts. , DeSantis and others focus on immigrants released from shelters and claim that they promised them job opportunities, schooling for their children, and immigration assistance.

The attorney said in the lawsuit that the immigrants were not informed they were going to Martha’s Vineyard until shortly before landing. The lawsuit alleges that when the plane landed, the people working there “disappeared” with the immigrants on board, leaving them when they realized it was all a ruse.

“Defendants manipulate them, deprive them of their dignity, deprive them of their liberty, physical autonomy, due process, equal protection under the law, and pursue unlawful ends and personal political gains. It has inexcusably impeded the federal government’s exclusive control over immigration to further the agenda,” the group said.

The complaint also alleges that money spent to transport plaintiffs was improperly utilized from the Federal Coronavirus State Financial Recovery Fund, which is only permitted for COVID-19-related uses.

LCR seeks “compensatory, emotional distress, and punitive damages.”

ABC News has reached out to DeSantis’ offices and the Florida Department of Transportation for comment on the lawsuit.

Comment from DeSantis’ team

DeSantis’ director of communications Taryn Fenske responded to the investigation by the Bexar Sheriff’s Department in a social media post on Monday.

“Immigrants are willing to leave Bexar County after being tempted to ‘support themselves’ across the border. [Florida] Offered opportunities in sanctuary conditions [with] Unlike the 53 people who died in an abandoned truck in Bexar County in June,” Fenske wrote on Twitter.

DeSantis, appearing on Hannity, called the accusations that immigrants were cheated “nonsense.”

He has pledged additional operations to send immigrants to so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions,” and said last week that he intended to use $12 million from the state’s migration program for more transfers.

“These immigrants were being treated badly by Biden. We have provided transportation to the area.” He doubled down on his comments to Hannity.

member of parliament

Members of Congressional leadership on Tuesday stepped into ongoing debate over last week’s move by DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to send immigrants to various cities across the United States.

Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said at a news conference Tuesday in the Capitol that Republican governors must “stop acting like human traffickers,” arguing that both men (Abbott and DeSantis defend their actions as a reaction to Biden and Democrats’ border policies, saying they show the cost and scope of immigration care.)

But Jeffries said, “They put politics before the people in the most egregious way possible.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed support for the Republican action, saying he “thought it was a good idea” to send immigrants to the blue states.

Although not named, McConnell defended DeSantis and Abbott in the Senate, saying they were just giving Biden and the Democrats a “very little taste” of what border governors have been working on for years. .

White House Press Secretary Carine Jean-Pierre countered the notion that Republican leaders were suggesting that the cross-border nation is sharing the burden of immigration.

Jean-Pierre told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday: “It would be a burden to alert GistFeed, rather than city and state officials, about plans to abandon children fleeing communism on the streets. Our view is that it’s not about sharing,” he said. “That’s not the definition of burden-sharing we think it is. It’s a cruel and premeditated political stunt.”

Miles Cohen, Sarah Beth Guevara, Isabella Murray and Quinn Owen of ABC News contributed to this report.

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