‘I never ever, ever knew it was a governor’ behind the stunt

A handful of migrants stand outside of St. Andrews Episcopal Church on September 15. Two planes of migrants from Venezuela suddenly arrived a day earlier on Martha’s Vineyard.Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

  • A man who helped recruit migrants to get on flights bound for Martha’s Vineyard says he feels betrayed.

  • “I have nothing to do with the deception,” the man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CNN.

  • Dozens of migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard in a move planned by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this month.

A man who helped recruit migrants to get on flights bound for Martha’s Vineyard as part of a stunt by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this month says he feels disappointed and had no idea that the Republican politician was behind the operation.

“I have nothing to do with the deception,” the man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said during an interview with CNN published on Tuesday.

“I was always aware that it was a benefactor who was paying for things. I repeat I never ever, ever knew it was a governor or politician, so my only will was to help people,” the recruiter said, adding that “yes, of course,” he feels betrayed.

The man, also a migrant, told CNN that he was living on the streets of San Antonio, Texas, for about a month before he met a woman identified as “Perla,” who he said roped him into the scheme.

He said the woman made an offer to him, promising him money, food, and clothes as long as he found other migrants willing to get on flights to Massachusetts from Texas.

She also gave the man $10 McDonald’s gift certificates to give to those who agreed to get on the planes, the man told CNN.

“She had told me that the people who were going to Massachusetts, before I sent them, she had told me that they were going to receive them,” the man told CNN. “They were going to be given shelter, a place to stay. They were going to help them with the language, and those who had children, they were going to study.”

About 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, were taken on two chartered planes to the upscale liberal Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard unannounced from Texas on September 14.

The flights were organized by DeSantis, an outspoken critic of the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

A Boston-based nonprofit has since filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of a group of the migrants against DeSantis and other Florida officials, alleging that they carried out a “scheme to defraud vulnerable immigrants to advance a political motive.”

The suit says that the migrants were persuaded with $10 McDonald’s gift certificates and false promises of employment, housing, and other assistance to get them to board the planes out of San Antonio, Texas.

A woman identified as “Perla” and a man identified as “Emanuel” are named in the lawsuit, which says they waited outside of shelters in Texas and persuaded migrants with $10 gift certificates to tell them about the transport “pretending to be good Samaritans offering humanitarian aid.”

The recruiter who spoke to CNN said his “only intention was to help the people so they could get some stability.”

“Everything was always voluntary. No one was ever forced to do anything,” he added.

The man said once the migrants touched down in Martha’s Vineyard, he received a worried message from one of them after they realized that no one was expecting them.

“There’s nothing here. We’re adrift here, these people didn’t even know we would arrive,” said part of the message, CNN reported.

The man told CNN that he then contacted the woman identified as “Perla,” who texted him: “Tell them to call the numbers we gave them. The church. The state has to take care of them.”

Locals on Martha’s Vineyard quickly came to the aid of the migrants who were later relocated to a military base in Cape Cod that’s designated as an emergency shelter.

An attorney representing a group of the migrants told Insider last week that the immigrants have been left “traumatized” by the stunt.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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