DeSantis’s team lured hungry migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift cards, lawsuit says

Unnamed people working with Florida governor ‘trolled streets outside of a migrant shelter’

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 21 September 2022 16:04 BST
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Related video: Joe Biden taunts DeSantis over reported migrant flight to Delaware

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s team lured migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift certificates to gain their trust as part of a “scheme” to fly them to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas, a new federal lawsuit has alleged.

The lawsuit has been filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights, Boston, on behalf of a class of affected immigrants, including those stranded in Martha’s Vineyard, and Alianza Americas, a network of migrant-led organisations supporting immigrants.

The federal class action lawsuit said unnamed people working with the governor identified and targeted migrants by “trolling streets outside of a migrant shelter” in San Antonio, Texas, “pretending to be good samaritans and offering humanitarian assistance”.

The lawsuit added that, after offering the gift certificates, the migrants were also promised educational opportunities and other assistance if they boarded planes to other states.

Last week, Mr DeSantis and his Texas counterpart governor Greg Abbott sent migrants in planes and buses to liberal states to make a political statement about the “historic” crisis at the US border.

The move was attacked by the White House as an “illegal” and political stunt.

The class action lawsuit names Florida Transportation Secretary Jared W Perdue, the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation and five unnamed “Doe” defendants along with Mr DeSantis.

A number of migrants who were transported earlier said they thought they were travelling to Boston to receive work papers.

On Monday, Texas’s Bexar County sheriff Javier Salazar said in a statement that his office is investigating whether the migrants were victims of crimes.

“The Bexar County sheriff’s office has opened an investigation into the migrants that were lured from the Migrant Resource Center, located in Bexar County, TX, and flown to Florida, where they were ultimately left to fend for themselves in Martha’s Vineyard, MA,” the statement said.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, Mr DeSantis’ spokesperson Taryn Fenske lashed out at the activists helping the migrants with their case.

“If these activists spent even a fraction of this time and effort at the border, perhaps some accountability would be brought to the Biden administration’s reckless border policies that entice illegal immigrants to make dangerous and often lethal journeys through Central America and put their lives in the hands of cartels and Coyotes,” she said.

Mr DeSantis has not issued a statement yet on the lawsuit.

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