Attorneys representing around 30 Venezuelan migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts in a move coordinated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are calling for a criminal investigation into his actions.
DeSantis, a Republican and possible 2024 presidential candidate, on Friday said the state's contractor went to Texas to try to identify people "that are trying to come to Florida, and then offer them free transportation to sanctuary jurisdictions."
Oren Sellstrom, litigation director for Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based organization whose attorneys have spoken with many of the migrants, told the Boston Globe that what happened to his clients "is akin to human trafficking, false imprisonment or kidnapping."
"Those are all the types of crimes that federal and state law-enforcement authorities must investigate."
Lawyers for Civil Rights, which represents the 30 immigrants, said its legal staff has been on the ground on Martha’s Vineyard and now at Joint Base Cape Cod interviewing the individuals.
"While we are working to protect our clients' rights in immigration proceedings and exploring remedies for civil rights violations, we also strongly believe that criminal laws were broken by the perpetrators of this stunt," LCR said in a statement.
"Our clients were induced to board airplanes and cross state lines under false pretenses. Individuals, working in concert with [DeSantis], made numerous false promises to our clients, including of work opportunities, schooling for their children and immigration assistance, in order to induce them to travel."
LCR said the migrants were told in midair that they would be flown to Martha's Vineyard, rather than to Boston.
"This conduct deprived our clients of their liberty by deception," the group said.
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