(As originally published with bells and whistles, Tue, September 20th 2022, 5:32 PM EDT)
BOSTON (CBS12) — A group of migrants from Venezuela have filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and accomplices from their new home state of Massachusetts.
It describes in detail how they were lured to hotels by people who’d been “trolling streets” and offering McDonald’s gift certificates to hungry people.
The lawsuit also describes false promises made when the plaintiffs had authorization to remain in the U.S., and concludes everything worked as DeSantis had planned.
The organization Alianza Americas — along with three Venezuelans, Yanet Doe, Pablo Doe and Jesus Doe — are suing on behalf of themselves and the rest of the group of nearly 50.
According to the lawsuit, “Plaintiffs are recent immigrants who fled from Venezuela — a place subject to a Level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ not travel advisory by the United States Department of Health due to rampant crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, terrorism and wrongful detentions.
“After crossing the United States border, the plaintiffs immediately surrendered themselves to federal immigration officials and each has —and at all times pertinent to the allegations in this complaint has had — active federal proceedings to adjudicate their immigration status. Unless and until determined otherwise after the due process to which they are entitled, plaintiffs are authorized by federal immigration officials to remain in the United States.”
Their suit says they have “led lives inflicted by violence, instability, and abuse of trust by corrupt government officials that most Americans could hardly conceive of.”
Then, it describes what happened to them, not in Venezuela but in Texas.
The accusation is that DeSantis and “unidentified accomplices designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.”
Specifically, it says, the scheme involved “identifying and targeting class members by trolling streets outside of a migrant shelter in Texas and other similar locales, pretending to be Good Samaritans offering humanitarian assistance.”
According to the lawsuit, “To gain the plaintiffs’ trust, and to induce unwitting cooperation with defendants’ scheme, the Doe Defendants provided items such as $10 McDonald’s gift certificates to class members suffering from chronic food insecurity. After luring plaintiffs by exploiting their most basic needs, the Doe Defendants then made false promises and false representations that have plaintiffs and class members were willing to board airplanes to other states, they would receive employment, housing, educational opportunities, and other like assistance upon their arrival. Next, the defendants put class members up for free in hotels, sequestered away from the migrant center, and from the possibility of actual Good Samaritans finding out how the class members were being abused.”
The suit mentions how much the flights may have cost for the first time.
It said DeSantis and the other defendants “paid $615,000 for private charter planes ($12,300 per passenger), transported class members to the aircrafts, and told them they were flying to Boston or Washington, D.C., which was completely false. Instead, the chartered airplanes dropped plaintiffs off on Martha’s Vineyard in the evening, with no food, water or shelter. No one on Martha’s Vineyard — or, on information and belief — anywhere in Massachusetts — knew they were coming. The Doe Defendants disappeared and did not answer alarmed calls from the class members to get information about what had gone wrong after they landed. But nothing had ‘gone wrong.’ Instead, the scheme worked exactly as the defendants intended.”
Then, the lawsuit compares the DeSantis-led operation to where they came from as “cruelly akin to what they fled in their home country. Defendants manipulated them, stripped them of their dignity, deprived them of their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process, and equal protection under law, and impermissibly interfered with the federal government’s exclusive control over immigration in furtherance of an unlawful goal and a personal political agenda.”
It also goes into what happened after.
“The next day, Governor DeSantis claimed credit for the ruse, and the class members and their plate became front-page news across the country,” the suit says.
It adds, they “are pursuing the proper channels for lawful immigration status in the United States.”
They’re asking the court to declare the case a class action suit.
They also want the court to say the conduct of “fraud and misrepresentation violated the U.S. Constitution,” and that no other immigrants be induced “to travel across state lines by fraud and misrepresentation.”
Plus, they want compensatory, emotional distress and punitive damages; and a trial by jury.
DeSantis has not yet responded to the suit.
Earlier Tuesday, he defended his actions, admitted the migrants had not been in Florida, and blamed President Biden for the crisis at the southern border.