Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard Receive Visas in Response to Ron DeSantis’ Crimes Against Them

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 30, 2024

The United States saw the arrival of more than 1 million international migrants in 2023. While many government officials are doing their best to try to handle the influx of residents, Ron DeSantis took a different approach. 

The Governor of Florida apparently “helped” about four dozen migrants fly from Texas to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 2022. And now, those same people are being offered visas for the crimes the US government committed against them. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Has Been Busing Migrants Away

Before DeSantis took it upon himself to offer free plane rides for migrants to the North, Governor Greg Abbott had been removing new arrivals from the state of Texas on a regular basis. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks into a microphone at a campaign event

Source: Britannica

According to the Texas Tribune, the Lone Star State has spent more than $148 million busing migrants to other states over the past two years. They say that Abbott has removed more than 102,000 migrants from Texas during this time. 


DeSantis Copied the Controversial Practice

While the majority of political leaders criticized Abbott for his inhumane treatment of migrants in his state, apparently, Gov. DeSantis thought it was a great idea and decided to follow suit. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis raises his hand in celebration at an event

Source: Reddit

On September 14, 2022, DeSantis sent around 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard on the island of Cape Cod in the northeast state of Massachusetts. 

Why Did Gov. DeSantis Remove Migrants From Texas?

DeSantis didn’t remove any migrants from Florida, as he reported that he couldn’t find any “mass movement of them into Florida.” However, he argued that as “between a third and forty percent of the people coming across are seeking to end up in Florida,” it was still his responsibility to ensure these immigrants never made it to the Sunshine State. 

Digital illustration of the Texas flag flying against a setting sun

Source: Adobe Stock

Therefore, he headed to San Antonio, Texas, where he could find large groups of recent immigrants. There, in the name of protecting Florida, he collected nearly 50 people there to force them north instead of east. 

How Did DeSantis Force 50 Migrants Onto a Plane?

Since the incident, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department has led a detailed investigation into what happened that day in San Antonio. They reported that the Gov. arranged for a Venezuelan migrant to be paid to recruit 48 migrants from a local resource shelter. 

A large plane without windows sits on the tarmac at sunset

Source: Freepik

Then, they were “lured” to a hotel where they stayed for two days before being placed on a plane and told they were headed to Boston. Many reports say these migrants were also promised housing and jobs upon arrival, but, of course, they weren’t headed to Boston, and no such help was offered once they arrived at their final destination. 

DeSantis Used Florida Tax Payers’ Money to Transport the Migrants

Transporting nearly 50 people by plane is an expensive endeavor, so DeSantis used funding from the Florida taxpayers to do so. Reports state that it cost about $12,300 per person, or $615,000, to complete the political stunt. 

A man wearing a black shirt hands over a stack of cash to a woman

Source: Freepik

While many see this as a misuse of state funds, as the migrants had never even stepped foot on Florida soil, that’s not the biggest problem with DeSantis’ plan. It’s become clear that what the Florida governor did wasn’t just controversial, it was illegal. 


DeSantis Promised These New Arrivals the World

The vast majority of migrants arriving in the US are hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families in the land of the free. DeSantis used that dream to manipulate 48 migrants into boarding a plane to the unknown. 

Several people line up while holding small American flags at their citizenship ceremony

Source: iStock

However, because DeSantis lied to these people about where they were going, what they would receive when they got there, and even why they were being transported, the 48 migrants on the plane are now fighting back. 


Civil Rights Attorneys Are Suing DeSantis

Just days after they arrived in an unknown place with no food, shelter, and certainly no jobs waiting for them, the 48 immigrants on the plane reached out for help. 

A lawyer and a client shake hands in his office over a wooden table

Source: Freepik

They contacted local civil rights attorneys and told them their story. Then, they proceeded to file a class action lawsuit against the Florida governor for the “economic, emotional, and constitutional harms” they experienced. 


Are Immigrants Protected Under the Constitution?

In order for this lawsuit to function in the US judiciary system, the immigrants from Venezuela need to be protected by the country’s Constitution. Luckily, they are. 

A women looks solemn as she walks outside by the water with an American flag

Source: Freepik

According to the 14th Amendment, the government cannot “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Which means that anyone on US ground has the same constitutional rights as American citizens. 


A Specific Visa Exists for Immigrants Who Were Wronged by the US Government

In fact, a specific kind of visa is allotted for immigrants who were wronged by the United States government. 

Photograph of the U Nonimmigrant Status visa provided by the USCIS

Source: USCIS

It’s called the U nonimmigrant status, and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services says the U Visa is “set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.”


The 48 Migrants DeSantis Moved Have Applied for U Visas

While the lawsuit continues, the 48 migrants from Venezuela that DeSantis illegally transported have already applied for U Visas from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Close-up photograph of the logo for the US Citizens and Immigration Services and two small American Flags

Source: Depositphotos

One of their attorneys, Rachel Self, explained, “The cases are so backlogged that USCIS issues these determinations to allow people to wait in the U.S. with work authorization until a visa becomes available, so that is what they have received.”


What Will Happen to the 48 Migrants DeSantis Removed from Texas?

It’s too soon to tell whether or not DeSantis will be found guilty of “economic, emotional and constitutional harms” against the 48 people he forced to fly from Texas to Massachusetts in 2022. 

Close-up photograph of a wooden judge’s gavel

Source: Freepik

For now, these migrants are allowed to stay and work in the United States and fight their case in court. However, whatever does happen in this case will set an extremely important precedent for the future of immigration in America.