The group of Venezuelan migrants flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., last week by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) filed a class-action suit against the governor and the state’s transportation secretary on Tuesday.
The suit provides a detailed account of how the migrants came to board the two planes allegedly under false pretenses, arguing the relocations violated their Fourth and 14th Amendment rights and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“These immigrants, who are pursuing the proper channels for lawful immigration status in the United States, experienced cruelty akin to what they fled in their home country,” the suit alleges.
“Defendants manipulated them, stripped them of their dignity, deprived them of their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process and equal protection under law, and impermissibly interfered with the Federal Government’s exclusive control over immigration in furtherance of an unlawful goal and a personal political agenda,” it continues.
The suit, filed in a federal trial court in Massachusetts, asks a judge to declare DeSantis’s relocations illegal under the Constitution as well as federal and state laws. It also asks the judge to prevent Florida from inducing immigrants to travel across state laws by fraud and misrepresentation.
The Hill has reached out to DeSantis’s office and the Florida Department of Transportation for comment.
DeSantis became the latest GOP governor to relocate migrants to northern areas of the country in protest of President Biden’s immigration policies and so-called “sanctuary cities.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has bused migrants to Washington, D.C., while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has sent individuals to D.C., New York City and Chicago, arguing the moves relieve border communities overwhelmed by an influx of migrants.
The relocations have fueled fury among Democrats, who accuse the GOP governors of using the migrants as political pawns — a sentiment echoed throughout the class action suit.
A Texas sheriff separately opened an investigation into the Martha’s Vineyard flights on Monday.
Alianza Americas, a network of groups supporting immigrants, filed the class action suit with three unnamed migrants DeSantis relocated, claiming the scheme also constituted intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and fraud.
The suit alleges the individuals, while staying in Texas migrant shelters, were told they were flying to Washington, D.C. or Boston and promised resources upon landing. The migrants were then allegedly told the flight would arrive at Martha’s Vineyard while the flight was in the air.
“Once the individual Plaintiffs and class members landed, it became clear that the promises made to induce them on the planes were in fact bold-faced lies,” the suit states.
DeSantis has said the flights were paid for using a $12 million fund approved by the state legislature for migrant relocations. The suit names the state transportation department and its head as defendants, as the fund was appropriated to the department.
Updated: 5:24 p.m.