Sep 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House Homeland Security chair calls on DOJ, DHS to probe DeSantis

Photo of Ron DeSantis speaking from a podium at a rally against the backdrop of a banner that says "Don't Tread On Florida"

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at a rally at the Horsepower Ranch in Geneva, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

House Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on Thursday joined the chorus of calls urging the federal government to investigate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) transport of migrants.

Why it matters: Thompson is urging the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to probe whether coercion was involved after some of the migrants filed a lawsuit against DeSantis alleging Florida officials used "bold-faced lies" to mislead them about the flights.

  • The migrants said they were promised cash assistance, employment services and housing assistance as part of the transport.

What he's saying: "I write with grave concern regarding the allegations that the migrants who were flown to Martha's Vineyard on September 14th were coerced to board the flight through false information," Thompson said in the letter.

  • He is demanding an investigation into whether federal laws were violated as well as an "immediate review of the circumstances regarding these individuals' release into and transport within the United States."
  • When asked later if the administration was receptive, Thompson told reporters, "I think a letter from the chairman ... asking for them to review it would be enough," per The Hill.

The big picture: Since the nearly 50 migrants arrived on Martha's Vineyard, DeSantis has faced a wave of backlash. Several border Democrats have lambasted the act, calling it "soulless."

  • Lawyers representing about 30 of the migrants have asked the Massachusetts attorney general and the federal government to open criminal investigations into what they described as a "political stunt."

Yes, but: DeSantis has doubled down on continuing the transports and maintains the flights were voluntary.

Worth noting: The Biden administration is considering possible litigation options in response.

  • Representatives for the DOH, DHS and DeSantis did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: The scramble to help migrants on Martha's Vineyard

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