Civil rights group seeks nationwide injunction to stop future migrant transports

Migrants taken to Martha’s Vineyard last week paid for by state of Florida

Lawyers who are part of a civil rights group representing the migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard say they are seeking a nationwide injunction to stop future transports.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lawyers who are part of a civil rights group representing the migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard say they are seeking a nationwide injunction to stop future transports.

“We are seeking a nationwide injunction to block Gov. DeSantis in Florida from engaging in these activities which endanger human lives,” said Ivan Espinoza Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

The executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, Ivan Espinoza Madrigal, spoke to reporters Wednesday, one day after the group filed a federal class action lawsuit in Massachusetts. The lawyers are representing the roughly 50 people who boarded planes in Texas and were later taken to Martha’s Vineyard last week, along with Alizana Americas, a network of migrant-led organizations supporting immigrants across the country.

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The lawsuit names Gov. Ron DeSantis, secretary of Florida’s Department of Transportation Jared Perdue, and other un-named accomplices. It claims they “designed and executed a premeditate, fraudulent and illegal scheme.”

Gov. DeSantis’ office released one of the “consent forms” they say the migrants signed. A statement shared with News 6 from Communications Director Taryn Fenske echoed what the governor has said previously, that the “transportation of the immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis.”

Espinoza-Madrigal says the group sees the “consent form” as evidence of the deception.

“The consent form was not properly translated. It was not completely translated,” said Espinoza-Madrigal. “It left material information out, which made it impossible for our clients to provide informed consent.”

The suit claims the migrants were targeted and induced to board airplanes and cross state lines under false pretenses. The 35-page complaint states they were given gift cards and promised they would receive employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

The people who were transported to Martha’s Vineyard were taken on planes paid for by the state of Florida using funds from a $12 million relocation program, according to Gov. DeSantis’s office. The group landed Wednesday and were bused to a military base in Cape Cod on Friday.

“What happened was they were they were provided an ability to be in the most posh sanctuary jurisdiction, maybe in the world. And obviously, it’s sad that Martha’s Vineyard people deported them the next day. They could have absorbed this. They chose not to,” Gov. DeSantis said Tuesday.

The governor has defended the drop off, saying it was in response to the Biden administration’s border policies. The full statement from his office in response to the lawsuit is below:

“It is opportunistic that activists would use illegal immigrants for political theater. If these activists spent even a fraction of this time and effort at the border, perhaps some accountability would be brought to the Biden Administration’s reckless border policies that entice illegal immigrants to make dangerous and often lethal journeys through Central America and put their lives in the hands of cartels and Coyotes.

The transportation of the immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis. The immigrants were homeless, hungry, and abandoned – and these activists didn’t care about them then. Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts. It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours.”


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About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.