September 30, 2022

YES, PLEASE: Will Ron DeSantis face criminal charges for human trafficking after migrant stunt?

YES, PLEASE: Will Ron DeSantis face criminal charges for human trafficking after migrant stunt?

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Independent journalist Judd Legum has discovered evidence that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s disgraceful dislocationof 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard was quite likely a violation of criminal law.

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According to NPR, the migrants were told they were going to Boston, and a woman who identified herself as “Perla” told the migrants that if they traveled to Boston, they could receive “expedited work papers.”

Legum writes on his Popular Information blog,

“The allegation that the migrants were misled is legally significant. It would mean that the flights were not just heartless, but potentially criminal. If the migrants were misled, the scheme to transport them to Martha’s Vineyard could constitute fraud, false imprisonment, or kidnapping.”

Of course, DeSantis and his henchmen and women deny all of this, with Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez calling the allegations “categorically false,” but Legum’s evidence says otherwise.

Popular Information, however, has obtained a brochure that was provided to the migrants who ultimately agreed to the flights. It was provided to Popular Information by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR), a Boston-based legal organization that represents 30 of the migrants. The brochure says that migrants who arrive in Massachusetts will be eligible for numerous benefits, including “8 months cash assistance,” “assistance with housing,” “food,” “clothing,” “transportation to job interviews,” “job training,” “job placement,” “registering children for school,” “assistance applying for Social Security cards,” and many other benefits.

None of this, however, is true.

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The benefits described in the brochure aren’t available to migrants, only refugees referred to by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and those authorized to live in the United States. In other words, the migrants were blatantly lied to.

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Legum obtained the brochure from Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, an organization fighting discrimination and representing 30 of the migrants. LCR Boston has called for federal officials to launch a criminal investigation into this humanitarian disaster.

A group of pro-bono lawyers are now representing all 50 of the migrants, known affectionately as the Vineyard 50.

The outrage is widespread. Both California Governor Gavin Newsom and Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried each called on US Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate.

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Whether it was illegal or not is to be determined, but one thing is clear, as one migrant told the Boston Globe that he believes “they don’t want immigrants in Texas and Florida.,” adding poignantly, “However, human life is not a game.”

Lesley Abravanel is a proud Jewish American and a former entertainment columnist who realized that fighting fascism is more important than keeping up with the Kardashians.

Follow her on Twitter@LesleyAbravanel.

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