Migrants flown from Texas to Martha's Vineyard file suit again Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

The migrants allege they boarded the planes under the false promise that jobs and housing would be waiting for them. 

5 p.m. Update: Three Venezuelans who claim they were "lured" into flying to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. from San Antonio under false pretenses have filed a class action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials involved in the political stunt. The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis and his accomplices carried out "a premeditated, fradulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting [the migrants] for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests." 

The migrants allege they were targeted outside of a migrant shelter in San Antonio by a woman named "Perla" who promised they would receive employment, housing, educational opportunities and other similar assistance if they were willing to board planes to other states. One of the migrants, identified as "Jesus Doe" in the lawsuit claims he was given a $10 McDonald's gift card to convince him to sign a document that was not explained to him, nor was he given proper time to review it.

"Perla" also reportedly paid one migrant, identified as "Emmanuel," $200 to help recruit migrants to board the planes. The migrants say they were put up in hotels in San Antonio for free and told they would be flown to Washington, D.C. and Boston. "Instead, the chartered airplanes dropped Plaintiffs off on Martha's Vineyard in the evening with no food, water or shelter," the document reads. "No one on Martha's Vineyard—or, on information and belief—anywhere in Massachusetts—knew they were coming." 

Upon arriving, the migrants attempted to call the plaintiffs at a phone number given to them for questions to understand what went wrong. But their calls went unanswered. 


Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced Monday that he's opened a criminal investigation into individuals who allegedly "lured" a group of migrants from a shelter they were staying at in San Antonio to be flown to Martha's Vineyard, Mass., at the request of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week.

During a news conference, Salazar said the 48 migrants from Venezuela were "lured under false pretenses" to board the planes on Sept. 14 and were flown to Florida and eventually transported to Martha's Vineyard. Several of the migrants claimed that a woman named Perla promised them housing and expedited work permits in Boston. However, Salazar said they were "exploited and hoodwinked" and used "nothing more than political posturing." 

"What infuriates me most about this case is that here we have 48 people who are already on hard times, and they were here legally in our country at that point. They have every right to be where they are and I believe that they were preyed upon," Salazar said. "They were just made fools of and were subjected to a video op, a photo op." 

Salazar said he has the names of some of the suspects involved in the incident, but chose not to disclose them at this time. At this point, Salazar said he was unable to definitively provide a statute or criminal activity that was broken, but "just from a human rights perspective what was done to these folks is wrong."

In a statement to the Dallas Morning News in response to Salazar's probe, a spokesperson for DeSantis referenced the San Antonio tractor-trailer tragedy from June in which several migrants died. "Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless and 'left to fend for themselves'," the statement read. "Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected."

The spokesperson continued, writing that "unless the MA national guard has abandoned these individuals, they have been provided accommodations, sustenance, clothing and more options to succeed following their unfair enticement into the United States, unlike the 53 migrants who died in a truck found abandoned in Bexar County this June."

DeSantis seems to be following the lead of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who since April has been sending thousands of migrants on buses from the Texas border to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago in protest of President Joe Biden's border policies. However, Abbott's office said in an emailed statement last week that he did not work with DeSantis on the migrant flights plan.

"Though we were not involved in these initial planes to Martha’s Vineyard, we appreciate the support in responding to this national crisis and helping Texans," Abbott's press secretary Renae Eze wrote. "Governor Abbott encourages and welcomes all his fellow governors to engage in this effort to secure the border and focus on the failing and illegal efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration to continue these reckless open border policies."

For the first time ever, U.S. Customs and Border Protection made more than 2 million immigration arrests along the southern border in just the past 11 months, according to arrest figures released on Monday. Last year, U.S. authorities made a record of more than 1.7 million arrests. 

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