Massachusetts state lawmaker requests federal human trafficking probe over DeSantis migrant move
A state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard has called for a federal investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) relocation of migrants to the island last week.
Massachusetts state Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D), who has repeatedly attacked DeSantis for chartering two planes to transport the migrants, made the request on Sunday.
“We are requesting that the Department of Justice open an investigation to hold DeSantis & others accountable for these inhumane acts,” Fernandes wrote on Twitter. “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”
Fernandes said he has spoken with U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins, adding that she was pushing for a Justice Department response.
The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.
Two flights with nearly 50 migrants on Wednesday landed on Martha’s Vineyard, an island known for its popularity as a vacation spot for the wealthy. The migrants have since been moved to Joint Base Cape Cod.
“They already bused them out, they’re gone,” DeSantis said on Friday. “They said we want everyone, no one’s illegal, and they’re gone within 48 hours.”
The flights raised questions as to how the migrants came to believe boarding the planes was their best option. Local officials have suggested the migrants were misled.
The relocations were the latest example of Republican governors busing and flying migrants to Democrat-run cities.
The governors argue the relocations provide relief to border communities overwhelmed by President Biden’s immigration policies and that they want to raise awareness for immigration policy changes in Washington.
Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group that represents more than 30 of the migrants flown to Massachusetts, similarly called for a federal investigation into their relocations.
“While we are working to protect our clients’ rights in immigration proceedings and exploring remedies for civil rights violations, we also strongly believe that criminal laws were broken by the perpetrators of this stunt,” the group wrote in letters to Rollins and Massachusetts’s attorney general.
“We therefore ask that you open a criminal investigation into this matter,” the letters continued.
DeSantis is one of three Republican governors who have relocated migrants in recent months.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused thousands of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago in recent months, while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has sent nearly 2,000 migrants to D.C.