DORAL, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the decision to charter two planes full of undocumented immigrants to Massachusetts is about all communities in this country sharing the burden of immigration.
But some are questioning how exactly his administration convinced those migrants to board a plane to Martha’s Vineyard, an island known to be popular among the wealthy elite.
“There’s absolutely no infrastructure in Martha’s Vineyard to support migrants, there’s no history of immigration going to Martha’s Vineyard,” said Venezuelan activist Juan Correa Villalonga. “And now he’s carting them around like cattle from state to state, starving them all day and dropping them off with excuses they were going to Boston and lies that they were going to get jobs and housing?
Questions are also growing about how Florida officials carried out the operation and what exactly they told the migrants.
11 p.m. report:
NPR reporting that a woman approached the Venezuelans outside of a shelter in San Antonio, telling them they would be going to Boston, where they could receive expedited work papers and would be provided housing.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried sending a letter to the Justice Department on Thursday night, calling for an investigation into what she calls political human trafficking. It reads: “An investigation is necessary to understand who these immigrants are, how they were transported across state lines, and if their rights were violated.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the situation on Thursday while speaking to the media.
“The migrants, including children, who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard were misled about where they were being taken and about what would be provided when they arrived,” she said.
Venezuelan activist Helen Villalonga compared the governor’s actions to coyotes who deceive migrants in Latin America for human trafficking.
“It’s very unlikely that this would rise to the level of criminal human trafficking investigation or subsequent prosecution,” said Erick Cruz, an attorney who works human trafficking cases.
Cruz says that’s because human trafficking would need an element of personal profit through exploitation.