Saturday, May 4, 2024

Judge Allows Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard by DeSantis to Sue Plane Firm; Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard Can Sue Plane Company. What That Means for Sacramento

Photograph: Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/Reuters
Judge allows migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by DeSantis to sue plane firm:
A group of migrants who were sent to Martha’s Vineyard in 2022 by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, can sue the plane company that transported them, a federal judge has ruled.
In a ruling issued last Friday, the US district judge Allison Burroughs said that the migrants who were shuttled from Texas to the wealthy liberal island in Massachusetts can proceed with their legal claims against Vertol Systems, the plane company which was contracted by Florida to carry out the flights.
The 77-page ruling, which also named DeSantis, Florida’s transportation secretary, Jared Perdue, and other state officials as defendants, said that the Venezuelan migrants and the immigrant rights group Alianza Americas “sufficiently alleged” multiple claims including “civil rights conspiracy” and “civil conspiracy”.
The incident, which occurred in September 2022, involved planes carrying about 50 adults and children as part of DeSantis’s “relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations”. According to budget records reviewed by CNN, Florida paid more than $2.3m to Vertol Systems since 2022 as part of the state’s migrant relocation programs.
In response, immigration activists and Democratic politicians accused DeSantis, who ran then later suspended his 2024 presidential bid, of orchestrating a political stunt. Joe Biden condemned the governor’s actions, calling them “reckless”, “un-American” and “playing with people’s lives”.
In the ruling, Burroughs said: “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that they were restrained against their will … (‘By the time Plaintiffs learned that they were being taken to Martha’s Vineyard, they had no ability to refuse transportation to the island. Plaintiffs were trapped midair on planes that they had boarded under false pretenses. Simply put, there was no way for them to escape.’) … and thus the Court finds that they have established a deprivation of a protected liberty interest.”
She went on to say: “Vertol and the other Defendants here were not legitimately enforcing any immigration laws,” adding: “Instead, as alleged, they ‘exploit[ed] [Plaintiffs] in a scheme to boost the national profile of Defendant DeSantis and manipulate them for political ends.’” --->READ MORE HERE
Hector Amezcua/
Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard can sue plane company. What that means for Sacramento:
A first-in-the-nation court ruling may have particular importance in the capital region for a group of 36 migrants who arrived in Sacramento nearly a year ago.
A federal judge in Boston ruled earlier this month migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard almost two years ago can move forward with a lawsuit against the private plane company that transported them. The ruling determined the migrants sufficiently alleged multiple claims including “false imprisonment,” “emotional distress” and “civil rights conspiracy.”
“We should be concerned for the welfare and well being of the migrants that are being transported and we should take a closer look at the role that the transportation companies play in these schemes,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, the executive director for Lawyers for Civil Rights, the Boston-based legal group representing the Martha’s Vineyard migrants.
The decision means the migrants can file a case against Vertol Systems Co., which was contracted by the state of Florida to carry out the flights. In her order, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs dismissed claims against Florida Gov. DeSantis and other members of his administration for jurisdictional reasons but condemned the actions of all involved.
“Unlike ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents legitimately enforcing the country’s immigration laws … the court sees no legitimate purpose for rounding up highly vulnerable individuals on false pretenses and publicly injecting them into a divisive national debate,” wrote Burroughs.
The recent ruling could lead to potential legal options for immigrant rights groups and other migrants who have been transported across state lines.
“Martha’s Vineyard victory … provides a significant boost for pursuing potential action to safeguard the rights of immigrants affected by other forms of transportation,” Espinoza-Madrigal said.
The Martha’s Vineyard incident was part of DeSantis’ “relocation program,” and involved the migrants signing questionable consent forms and receiving promises of housing, work opportunities and legal help. Months later, in June 2023, Vertol transported another 36 migrants from New Mexico to Sacramento under similar circumstances. --->READ MORE NEWS
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