Migrant crisis – latest: Migrants sue DeSantis for ‘fraudulent’ scheme as new plane reportedly heads to Delaware

Related video: More Migrants Arrive In D.C. As White House Slams Republican Governors

A group of 48 mostly Venezeulan migrants who the state of Florida transported in a surprise flight to Martha’s Vineyard last week have sued governor Ron DeSantis for the “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme.”

Local officials as well as the governor of California have called for the Florida governor to be criminally investigated for the flights, which reportedly relied on false claims of aid in official-looking to entice the migrants to board them.

Delaware agencies, meanwhile, are preparing for another potential flight due to arrive on Tuesday near President Joe Biden’s beach home in Rehoboth Beach. The plane, however, appears to have been delayed, according to flight tracking services.

State agencies and community groups are preparing humanitarian aid.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at an event on Tuesday he “cannot confirm” another flight of migrants is leaving Texas for Delaware, though he criticised president Biden, who he said “created a crisis” at the border.

Governor DeSantis and his aides and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have defended sending migrants to Democratic-leading states and cities in protest of what they characterise as the president’s “open border” policy.

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Ron DeSantis admits immigration isn’t a big problem in Florida

Ron DeSantis has made himself the face of the anti-immigration movement with his migrant flights to Florida, but there’s something a bit strange about them.

Mass migration isn’t much of a factor in Florida, and the flights themselves began by picking up migrants in Texas, a state far more in contact with cross-border migration from Mexico.

“We’re not seeing mass movements of them into Florida,” Mr DeSantis said on Tuesday at an event, describing a slow trickle of migrants coming “in onesie-twosies” into the Sunshine State.

According to the most recent Border Patrol numbers, the border sector that includes Florida was about 400 times less busy than the ones in the Southwest.

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Migrants on the Martha’s Vineyard flight weren’t in US ‘illegally,’ despite DeSantis claims

Ron DeSantis has falsely claimed the migrants his government sent on planes to liberal areas were criminals.

In fact, they were excercising rights protected under US and international law by seeking asylum in America.

As the news broke last week about Mr DeSantis’s migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, his communications directors defended the policy, saying it that it was a rightful use of state resources to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

However, the 48 migrants on the plane, many of them Venezuelans, were in the country legally.

As Alex Woodward notes in his great piece on the flights, they had already presented themselves to immigration authorities and were waiting on asylum proceedings.

After reaching the border, and turning themselves to authorities, migrants requesting asylum must undergo a “credible fear screening” to determine whether their return to their home countries could expose them to further persecution or threats. Following a screening, they are released while awaiting a hearing for their asylum case.

It was at this point, near San Antonio’s Migrant Resources Center, that the group of migrants targeted by people ostensibly working through Governor DeSantis’s operation were sent to Massachusetts.

Critics argue that it is the Florida governor himself who broke the law.

The migrants on the Martha’s Vineyard flight filed a class action lawsuit against the Republican on Tuesday, arguing that they were enticed onto the cross-country flights with false promises of work, housing support, and other services.

“Plaintiffs have led lives inflicted by violence, instability, insecurity, and abuse of trust by corrupt government officials that most Americans could hardly conceive of,” the suit reads.

“They fled to the United States in a desperate attempt to protect themselves and their families from gang, police, and state-sponsored violence and the oppression of political dissent. To put it simply, Plaintiffs, and the class of similarly situated individuals they seek to represent, are vulnerable in a way and to an extent that almost defies verbal description.”

Local officials in Texas are investigating whether Mr DeSantis’s scheme broke any laws.

California governor Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, has argued it was tantamount to kidnapping and has urged the federal Department of Justice to investigate.

And here’s Alex’s piece for more information on the process.

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Does Joe Biden have an ‘open border’ policy? Not really.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has blamed the Biden adminstration’s alleged “open border” policies for a migration “crisis” that requires flying migrants to other parts of the country just to give overwhelmed border towns a break.

“Biden can’t defend his policies of open borders,” Mr DeSantis said at an event on Tuesday. “It’s doing huge damage to our country.”

It’s a harrowing picture the Republican has painted, but it’s far from complete.

For one thing, the Biden administration’s border looks a lot like the one under the Trump administration.

President Biden, for example, is still buildingthe border wall along the US-Mexico border, a project that remained incomplete— “open” perhaps, to borrow Mr DeSantis’s phrase—at the end of the Trump adminsitration.

The Trump administration’s controversial Remain in Mexico programme, which forced asylum seekers to wait on the Mexico side of the border as their claims processed, was in place until this June.

And Mr Biden has continued using Mr Trump’s Title 42 order to massive effect. The policy, a supposed pandemic measure cooked up by arch immigration opponent Stephen Miller, reportedly over the protests of the CDC, allows immigration officials to refuse entry to asylum-seekers before they even enter immigration proceedings.

According to a Pew analysis, the Biden administration has already carried out the great majority of the roughly 2.2m Title 42 expulsions that have taken place since the policy went into effect.

Expulsions this year under the health rule, which the Biden administration renewed in August despite previous plans to abandon it, appear well on track to overcome the 1.07m conducted in 2021, according to Border Patrol stats.

Border officials also note that in addition to all the usual, nuanced drivers of immigration to the US political instability beyond American shores is a huge factor.

“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a recently released enforcement update.

And even during the Trump administration, harsh policies like Remain in Mexico and Title 42 weren’t deterring border crossers from trying their luck over and over again until they got into the US, analyses and the Border Patrol have concluded.

“There’s never going to be a point of militarization that the US can get the border to that would completely stop all these flows,” Jessica Bolter of the Migration Policy Institute told The Independent at the end of the Trump administration.

“The environmental and security push factors that are driving people to leave, as well as economic push factors, especially during and in the wake of the pandemic—there’s always going to be reasons to migrate.”

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How ‘historic’ is the situation at the border? Here’s what the data says.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott have both framed their highly controversial efforts to send migrants in planes and buses to liberal states as a way to raise awareness about the “historic” crisis at the US border. It’s a crisis, they say, that’s been caused by the Biden adminstration.

Indeed, a historic number of people have crossed the US-Mexico this year.

So far, in fiscal year 2022, more than 2.1m migrants have been encountered at the frontier line, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

That’s already more that 2021’s total, which just barely topped previous records from the 1980s and early 2000s, as the Pew Research Center noted in an analysis.

For what it’s worth, the record year of 2021 also included the final few months of the Trump administration, but you’re unlikely to hear much mention of that from partisans like Mr DeSantis and Mr Abbott.

As we’ll explore in a coming blog post, however, pinning these record numbers solely on Joe Biden hugely distorts the picture of what’s actually happening.

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White House says Florida using migrants as ‘pawns’ to score points for DeSantis

The White House on Tuesday continued to criticise Florida governor Ron DeSantis for backing migrant flights sending asylum-seekers from Texas and Florida to liberal locales across the country.

“When you think about what’s going on in Venezuela, when you think about what’s going on in Nicaragua, when you think about what’s going on in Cuba – they are fleeing political persecution only to be used as a political pawn by the Florida governor,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday during a press briefing.

Watch her full remarks here via C-SPAN.

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Both parties are to blame for the border ‘crisis’

Cries, especially from the GOP, of a “crisis” at the border are nothing new.

Whether its Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, or Greg Abbott, Republicans regularly use the border as an issue to whip up their base.

But is there really a “crisis” at the border?

Last year, as Donald Trump railed against a similar “crisis,” I wrote this look at how both parties have failed to pass any meaningful immigration reform in decades, resulting in a constant state of crisis that varies little from one administration to the next.

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Investigation threats loom over migrant flights

The Florida-funded migrant flights certainly accomplished one part of their objective: get attention.

But perhaps it’s not the kind of attention Republican supporters of the tactic like governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida really wanted.

Multiple entities, ranging from California governor Gavin Newsom to a local sheriff, say an investigation is warranted into whether the flights were illegal.

Here’s our reporting on what could come next

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Migrants and civil rights attorneys file federal lawsuit against DeSantis administration

Attorneys for a group of migrants who boarded unannounced flights to Martha’s Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who allegedly directed a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to transport a group of 50 people, including families with small children, as part of a political stunt.

The lawsuit alleges the governor and members of his administration targeted immigrants who were recently released from shelters with false promises of job opportunities, education and financial assistance before they landed on the island with only volunteered support from local groups and emergency assistance from state agencies.

Attorneys allege that the migrants were exploited for “political purposes.”

“No human being should be used as a political pawn in the nation’s highly polarized debate over immigration,” Lawyers for Civil Rights executive director Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal said in a statement.

More details from Alex Woodward’s full report.

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Immigrants sue Ron DeSantis for Martha’s Vineyard flight

The nearly 50 migrants aboard a flight the state of Florida funded to land in Martha’s Vineyard last week are suing Ron DeSantis.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, an advocacy group, announced the group of 48 is filing a class action lawsuit against the Florida governor for what it calls “a fraudulent and discriminatory scheme to transport nearly 50 vulnerable immigrants, including women and children, from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard without shelter or resources in place.” “No human being should be used as a political pawn in the nation’s highly polarized debate over immigration,” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said in a statement.

“This cowardly political stunt has placed our clients in peril. Numerous laws were brazenly violated to secure media headlines,” Oren Sellstrom, the group’s litigation director, added.

Read a full copy of their lawsuit here.

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Chris Coons blasts Delaware flights as ‘cruel stunt’

Chris Coons, US senator for Delaware, blasted Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, calling a rumoured plan to fly migrants from Texas to Delaware a “cruel stunt.”

He told CNN he’s been working “much of last night” with officials on the ground in Delaware to prepare for the flight.

“Simply put, what a cruel stunt to a group of folks who are applying for asylum. ‘There’s gonna be jobs and housing on either side of this flight, get on this plane,’” Mr Coons said. “And then they get off the plane and they’re like, ‘Nope. You’re 1,000 miles farther from where your hearing is going to be.’”

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