Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard received brochures falsely promising cash and job placement services.
They were flown to the Massachusetts island, as a political stunt by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Lawyers for Civil Rights is seeking a criminal investigation.
Migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard as part of an anti-liberal political stunt by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were given misleading brochures promising cash assistance, job placement services, and more, according to their lawyers.
The Boston-headquartered Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is representing about 30 of the immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard, shared links to photos of the brochure through Twitter. The group says the migrants received the brochure “at some point during their expulsion and relocation from Texas & Florida.”
The reference to Florida relocation is unclear because DeSantis’ office previously confirmed that the planes were chartered to transport the 50 migrants from Texas, not Florida. Lawyers for Civil Rights and DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NPR previously reported that a woman the migrants identified as “Perla” promised them work permits in Boston, but links to the brochure photos were posted on Twitter Monday and were reported by Popular Information.
Immigration attorney Matt Cameron told the publication that the benefits in the brochure are resettlement benefits for refugees referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and authorized to live in the United States, but they are not available in Massachusetts to the migrants who are still seeking asylum.
The “Massachusetts Refugee Benefits” brochure describes benefits including “up to 8 months of cash assistance,” “job placement, retention and upgrade services,” “assistance with housing,” food, clothing and more.
Lawyers for Civil Rights also posted their requests for a federal and Massachusetts criminal investigation into DeSantis’ decision to transport the migrants, who were moved to Cape Cod for “shelter and humanitarian support,” according to the governor’s office.
“Our clients were induced to board airplanes and cross state lines under false pretenses,” they alleged in both letters. “Individuals, working in concert with the Florida Governor, made numerous false promises to our clients, including of work opportunities, schooling for their children, and immigration assistance, in order to induce them to travel.”
Mid-air, they wrote, their clients learned they were bound for Martha’s Vineyard rather than Boston and those who had “induced” them to travel under “these false pretenses disappeared, leaving our clients to learn that the offers of assistance had all been a ruse to exploit them for political purposes.”
The lawyers say many of their clients were put up in hotels, paid for by those making false representations, until there were enough people to fill the planes. They have documentary evidence, including photos, that should allow law enforcement to locate alleged perpetrators as well as documents that their clients were required to sign, they wrote.
“This type of conspiracy to deprive our clients of their liberty and civil rights and interfere with federal immigration proceedings must be thoroughly investigated for violations of criminal laws,” they wrote.
DeSantis has said the migrants were transported voluntarily and that they knew where they were going because they signed a waiver and were given a map of Martha’s Vineyard, according to CNN.
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