Migrant crisis – latest: Migrants sue DeSantis for ‘fraudulent’ scheme as new plane reportedly heads to Delaware

Related video: More Migrants Arrive In D.C. As White House Slams Republican Governors

A plane reportedly full of asylum-seekers heading from Texas to Delaware so far hasn’t materialised, even as officials there worried they’d be the latest to be surprised with Florida’s highly controversial scheme of flying migrants unannounced to liberal jurisdictions.

Delaware agencies and the White House spent the day preparing for a surprise drop-off near President Biden’s beach home in Rehoboth Beach.

The plane, according to flight tracking services, only made it as far as New Jersey.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at an event on Tuesday he “cannot confirm” the Delaware flight, though he criticised president Biden, who he said “created a crisis” at the border.

State agencies and community groups were ready with humanitarian aid nonetheless.

A group of 48 mostly Venezeulan migrants who the state of Florida transported in a surprise flight to Martha’s Vineyard last week have sued governor Ron DeSantis for the “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme.”

Local officials as well as the governor of California have called for the Florida governor to be criminally investigated for the flights, which reportedly relied on false claims of aid in official-looking to entice the migrants to board them.

Governor DeSantis and his aides and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have defended sending migrants to Democratic-leading states and cities in protest of what they characterise as the president’s “open border” policy.


GOP’s hard-line tactics on migrants refocus midterm debate

They’ve delivered migrants on planes and buses to Washington, D.C., New York City — even Martha’s Vineyard. And the Republican governors of Florida and Texas may be just getting started.

Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas insist such dramatic steps are need to highlight a genuine crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where thousands of migrants stream into the country illegally each day. But weeks away from their own competitive reelections, friends and foes alike acknowledged that such hard-line tactics have effectively refocused November’s midterm elections — at least, temporarily — away from abortion rights and toward an issue more favorable to Republicans.

A defiant DeSantis on Tuesday blasted the Biden administration’s inaction on the Southern border and celebrated his own policies for making illegal immigration “a front-burner issue” ahead of the midterms.


Legal pressure on DeSantis for migrant flights continues with lawsuit

Attorneys for a group of migrants who boarded unannounced flights to Martha’s Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who allegedly directed a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to transport a group of 50 people, including families with small children, as part of a political stunt.

The lawsuit alleges the governor and members of his administration targeted immigrants who were recently released from shelters with false promises of job opportunities, education and financial assistance before they landed on the island with only volunteered support from local groups and emergency assistance from state agencies.

Attorneys allege that the migrants were exploited for “political purposes” after arriving on the island last week.

Get all the details about the bombshell lawsuit.


Why both parties have failed to create a stable immigration system

Every few months, the right declares there’s a new “crisis” at the US-Mexico border. In reality, both parties have created an unstable US immigration system through decades of inaction.

Sadly, this piece from last summer is still relevant, as many of the false claims and feckless solutions regarding immigration are once again making the rounds in the political discourse.


How a ‘false brochure’ helped lure migrants to Martha’s Vineyard flights

Before they boarded planes bound for Martha’s Vineyard, a group of about 50 migrants in San Antonio, Texas, were handed a trifold brochure titled “Massachusetts Refugee Benefits.”

A front cover included a photograph of a Massachusetts Department of Transportation highway sign reading “Massachusetts Welcomes You” above an illustration of the state.

On the back, printed in English and Spanish was the name and phone number and website for the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, a state agency that aids resettlement agencies and works with community groups to provide assistance to newly arrived refugees.

But the agency had nothing to do with the flier. The flier was mocked up to look like a government document, falsely suggesting that the group of mostly Venzeulan people seeking asylum in the US would be eligible for cash assistance, housing, food, job training, job interviews and other benefits.

Alex Woodward has the details.


Were Ron DeSantis’s migrant flights illegal?

The Department of Justice has been tapped by California Governor Gavin Newsom to investigate whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s controversial decision to send two flights of migrants north would amount to “kidnapping”.

“I strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice (US DOJ) to open an investigation into possible criminal or civil violations of federal law based on this alleged fraudulent scheme,” Gov Newsom wrote in a 15 September letter addressed to US Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Johanna Chisholm has the story.


ICMYI: Texas sheriff to investigate Florida for flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

A sheriff in Texas has opened an investigation into whether a group of migrants were “lured” on board last week’s flights from San Antonio to Massachusetts.

The flights, widely derided as a political stunt engineered by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis against Democratic “sanctuary” policies, have faced international scrutiny following reports that migrants and their families were deceptively collected into planes out of state after seeking asylum in the US.


False promises, a legal investigation and a mystery woman: Unanswered questions about Ron DeSantis’s migrant flights

Two planes with 48 migrants, most of whom fled Venezuela in the wake of that country’s political and economic collapse, landed unannounced on the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts on 14 September.

But so much remains unclear about the migrants’ journey, how Florida officials are identifying and collecting migrants in other states as part of the Republican governor’s state-sanctioned plans to send them to Democratic-leading states and cities, and how funding earmarked for his scheme is paying for it from several states away.

Alex Woodward has this in-depth look at what we do and don’t know about the controversial flight scheme.


Ron DeSantis admits immigration isn’t a big problem in Florida

Ron DeSantis has made himself the face of the anti-immigration movement with his migrant flights to Florida, but there’s something a bit strange about them.

Mass migration isn’t much of a factor in Florida, and the flights themselves began by picking up migrants in Texas, a state far more in contact with cross-border migration from Mexico.

“We’re not seeing mass movements of them into Florida,” Mr DeSantis said on Tuesday at an event, describing a slow trickle of migrants coming “in onesie-twosies” into the Sunshine State.

According to the most recent Border Patrol numbers, the border sector that includes Florida was about 400 times less busy than the ones in the Southwest.


Migrants on the Martha’s Vineyard flight weren’t in US ‘illegally,’ despite DeSantis claims

Ron DeSantis has falsely claimed the migrants his government sent on planes to liberal areas were criminals.

In fact, they were excercising rights protected under US and international law by seeking asylum in America.

As the news broke last week about Mr DeSantis’s migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, his communications directors defended the policy, saying it that it was a rightful use of state resources to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

However, the 48 migrants on the plane, many of them Venezuelans, were in the country legally.

As Alex Woodward notes in his great piece on the flights, they had already presented themselves to immigration authorities and were waiting on asylum proceedings.

After reaching the border, and turning themselves to authorities, migrants requesting asylum must undergo a “credible fear screening” to determine whether their return to their home countries could expose them to further persecution or threats. Following a screening, they are released while awaiting a hearing for their asylum case.

It was at this point, near San Antonio’s Migrant Resources Center, that the group of migrants targeted by people ostensibly working through Governor DeSantis’s operation were sent to Massachusetts.

Critics argue that it is the Florida governor himself who broke the law.

The migrants on the Martha’s Vineyard flight filed a class action lawsuit against the Republican on Tuesday, arguing that they were enticed onto the cross-country flights with false promises of work, housing support, and other services.

“Plaintiffs have led lives inflicted by violence, instability, insecurity, and abuse of trust by corrupt government officials that most Americans could hardly conceive of,” the suit reads.

“They fled to the United States in a desperate attempt to protect themselves and their families from gang, police, and state-sponsored violence and the oppression of political dissent. To put it simply, Plaintiffs, and the class of similarly situated individuals they seek to represent, are vulnerable in a way and to an extent that almost defies verbal description.”

Local officials in Texas are investigating whether Mr DeSantis’s scheme broke any laws.

California governor Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, has argued it was tantamount to kidnapping and has urged the federal Department of Justice to investigate.

And here’s Alex’s piece for more information on the process.


Does Joe Biden have an ‘open border’ policy? Not really.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has blamed the Biden adminstration’s alleged “open border” policies for a migration “crisis” that requires flying migrants to other parts of the country just to give overwhelmed border towns a break.

“Biden can’t defend his policies of open borders,” Mr DeSantis said at an event on Tuesday. “It’s doing huge damage to our country.”

It’s a harrowing picture the Republican has painted, but it’s far from complete.

For one thing, the Biden administration’s border looks a lot like the one under the Trump administration.

President Biden, for example, is still buildingthe border wall along the US-Mexico border, a project that remained incomplete— “open” perhaps, to borrow Mr DeSantis’s phrase—at the end of the Trump adminsitration.

The Trump administration’s controversial Remain in Mexico programme, which forced asylum seekers to wait on the Mexico side of the border as their claims processed, was in place until this June.

And Mr Biden has continued using Mr Trump’s Title 42 order to massive effect. The policy, a supposed pandemic measure cooked up by arch immigration opponent Stephen Miller, reportedly over the protests of the CDC, allows immigration officials to refuse entry to asylum-seekers before they even enter immigration proceedings.

According to a Pew analysis, the Biden administration has already carried out the great majority of the roughly 2.2m Title 42 expulsions that have taken place since the policy went into effect.

Expulsions this year under the health rule, which the Biden administration renewed in August despite previous plans to abandon it, appear well on track to overcome the 1.07m conducted in 2021, according to Border Patrol stats.

Border officials also note that in addition to all the usual, nuanced drivers of immigration to the US political instability beyond American shores is a huge factor.

“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a recently released enforcement update.

And even during the Trump administration, harsh policies like Remain in Mexico and Title 42 weren’t deterring border crossers from trying their luck over and over again until they got into the US, analyses and the Border Patrol have concluded.

“There’s never going to be a point of militarization that the US can get the border to that would completely stop all these flows,” Jessica Bolter of the Migration Policy Institute told The Independent at the end of the Trump administration.

“The environmental and security push factors that are driving people to leave, as well as economic push factors, especially during and in the wake of the pandemic—there’s always going to be reasons to migrate.”

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