BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) filed a federal civil rights class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and the State of Florida Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the dozens of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers from Venezuela flown from San Antonio, Texas to Martha's Vineyard last Wednesday, as well as Alianza Americas, a network of migrant-led organizations supporting immigrants across the United States.
DeSantis took credit for organizing the transit, saying in a statement, "States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as 'sanctuary states' and support for the Biden Administration's open border policies."
The move was sharply denounced by the White House, Democratic lawmakers, and immigration lawyers.
Last Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker activated 125 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to help voluntarily relocate the migrants to the dormitories at Joint Base Cape Cod, which is designated as an emergency shelter by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
Speaking with WBZ NewsRadio, LCR Litigation Director Oren Sellstrom called DeSantis' actions "outrageous political behavior" and "nothing but a stunt," and said the migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard under false pretenses.
"This cowardly political act violates the U.S. Constitution and a host of federal and state laws by illegally depriving individuals of liberty and due process through fraud and misrepresentation," Sellstrom told WBZ. "These are individuals who are fleeing extreme circumstances in their home country. Many of them traveled by foot across Central America and Mexico, came to the United States, saw it as a place of refuge, and then were preyed upon by the Florida governor and his accomplices."
Sellstrom also decried the brochure given to the migrants which lists a variety of refugee services in Massachusetts. The lawsuit says the brochure "was not prepared by the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, or any other Massachusetts agency or immigration services."
"The brochures that were provided to our clients are part and parcel of the misrepresentation, the false promises that were made both orally and in writing of jobs and housing," Sellstrom said.
The lawsuit is asking the federal court to enjoin the defendants from inducing immigrants to travel across state lines by fraud and misrepresentation, and to award damages to the individual plaintiffs and the class.
The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.