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Migrants sue Florida governor over Martha’s Vineyard flights

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BOSTON (AFP) – Venezuelan immigrants flown to Massachusetts’ posh Martha’s Vineyard filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his Transportation Secretary Tuesday for their involvement in a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to transport them.

The lawsuit, filed in Boston federal court, alleges that the immigrants were told they were going to Boston or Washington, “which is completely wrong,” and were presented with perks such as $10 McDonald’s gift certificates.

said Evan Espinosa-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is seeking class action status in the lawsuit filed on behalf of several immigrants on flights last week and Alianza Americas, a network of advocacy groups.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, which also named Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue as a defendant.

The lawsuit alleges that immigrants were urged to cross state lines on false pretenses, a line some Democratic officials use to urge a federal investigation.

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On Monday, Javier Salazar, the mayor of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, opened an investigation into the flights, but the Democrat-elect did not identify laws that may have been violated. California Governor Gavin Newsom and US Representative Joaquin Castro, whose county includes San Antonio, have asked the Justice Department to launch an investigation.

Conjecture spread among government officials, advocates and journalists Tuesday about DeSantis’ next move, consistent with the element of surprise that he and another Republican governor, Greg Abbott of Texas, sought by moving immigrants across the country to Democratic strongholds. With little or no notice.

Asked Tuesday about speculation that DeSantis might be sending immigrants back to his home state of Delaware, President Joe Biden said, “He should come visit him. We have a beautiful beach.”

DeSantis declined to confirm speculation, based on flight-tracking software, that more immigrants were on the move. He again defended his decision to move about 50 Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard, saying their decisions were entirely voluntary and, without evidence, were in a terrible state when Florida became involved.

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