Lawyers Representing More Than 30 Migrants Airlifted to Massachusetts Call for Criminal Investigations

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Lawyers for Civil Rights, which provides free legal assistance to communities of color and immigrants, criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, calling the thefts a “political stunt,” in a press release Saturday.

DeSantis sent two planes carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard earlier this week, in a move that infuriated Democratic politicians and underscored Republican governors’ continued efforts to ferry migrants to northern liberal enclaves to protest what they describe insufficient federal security efforts at the southern border.

Located off the coast of Massachusetts and long known as a posh summer destination for wealthy vacationers, Martha’s Vineyard provided an unusual and unexpected place for migrants to send.

James Hagerty, the city administrator of Edgartown, told CNN on Thursday that officials believed all of the migrants were from Venezuela. A local fire chief said earlier today that the migrants included seven families, with four children between the ages of 3 and 8.

Community members on the island quickly mobilized to help the migrants by donating food and clothing. Additionally, residents and others from different parts of the country raised more than $175,000 after the migrants arrived, according to Beth Folcarelli, CEO of the nonprofit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

Lawyers for the migrants said their clients were unaware they were being specifically taken to Martha’s Vineyard.

They were enticed to board the planes with “representations for labor assistance and immigration assistance in Boston,” the attorneys said in a press release.

DeSantis pushed back against claims the migrants didn’t know where they were going as he said they signed a waiver and received a package including a map of Martha’s Vineyard adding: “Obviously that’s where ‘they went”. and everything was “voluntary”.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins told reporters Thursday she would speak with Justice Department officials about DeSantis’ actions, saying she did not yet have enough information to say whether he had broken the law by sending the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. She added that their first priority was to make sure people arriving were treated with respect.

A spokeswoman for Rollins’ Massachusetts office told CNN on Saturday they had no further comment.

Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, told CNN on Saturday that the office was working to “review all relevant information.”

“We are in contact with our federal and state partners, as well as attorneys representing migrants, as we gather facts and evaluate all legal options,” Gotsis said.

CNN previously reported that the migrants were taken to a military base on Friday morning to receive shelter and humanitarian support, officials said.

DeSantis pledged to continue his efforts to relocate migrants.

“These are just early efforts,” the Florida governor said. “We have an infrastructure in place now. There’s going to be a lot more going on.”

CNN’s Nicki Brown contributed to this report.

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