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Published on April 02, 2024
Martha's Vineyard Migrants Allowed to Sue Charter Company, Boston Judge Rules; DeSantis Escapes JurisdictionSource: Getty Images / Joe Raedle
Venezuelan Community Leaders Denounce Florida Gov. DeSantis Sending Migrants To Martha's Vineyard (09/2022)

A federal judge in Boston ruled that migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis can proceed with their lawsuit against the charter flight company involved. The group of 50 Venezuelans was transported nearly two years ago from San Antonio to the upscale Massachusetts island with promises of employment and living arrangements, a promise that bore the bitter fruit of disillusionment upon their arrival, according to KENS 5.

The suit targets Florida-based Vertol Systems Co., which received hundreds of thousands of dollars for the flights. While Ron DeSantis was named in the suit, it's noted by the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts that it lacks jurisdiction over the Florida governor, as WBUR reported. Seeking work and housing, these migrants were cast into a storm of political controversy and left to weather it as pawns in a grander scheme orchestrated not for their benefit but for the theater of a nation's heated immigration debate.

Judge's findings infer that the defendants, including Vertol, may have "specifically targeted Plaintiffs because they were Latinx immigrants." When reached for comment after the ruling was released Monday afternoon, no timely response was given by the flight company. DeSantis' office, through his deputy press secretary Julia Friedland, maintained the flights' legality, stating, "the flights were conducted lawfully and authorized by the Florida Legislature. We look forward to Florida's next illegal immigrant relocation flight, and we are glad to bring national attention to the crisis at the southern border," according to the statement obtained by KENS 5.

In contrast, the court highlighted the stark difference between actions taken by ICE agents in legitimate law enforcement, versus the orchestration of these flights, which posed no legitimate purpose other than to inject vulnerable individuals into a divisive national debate. Executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, heralded the 77-page ruling as a significant win. "This sends a powerful message that private companies can be held accountable for joining with rogue state actors to violate the rights of immigrants," Espinoza-Madrigal told Yahoo News UK.

Last summer, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar engaged with California Gov. Gavin Newsom in discussions regarding the investigation into the migrant flights led by his agency. Criminal charges were recommended by Salazar when he said migrants were "lured" from the San Antonio Migrant Resource Center and sent to Martha’s Vineyard, as reported by KENS 5. The escalation of this legal battle potently underscores the complicated tango between state maneuvers and the lives of migrants caught amidst their rhythmic lockstep.