Sep 21, 2022 - News

Scoop: Massachusetts lawmakers call for DOJ probe into Martha’s Vineyard flights

merrick
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Two state legislators who responded to the sudden arrival of nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants on Martha’s Vineyard are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the asylum seekers' relocation from Texas.

Driving the news: The letter filed Wednesday to Attorney General Merrick Garland states that the migrants were encouraged to board a pair of flights under false pretenses without knowing they'd end up on the island, mirroring news reports and accounts from attorneys.

  • “We believe these and other reported actions intended to mislead these asylum seekers, violate their rights and derail ongoing immigration proceedings,” write state Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, both Democrats who represent parts of the Cape and Islands.
  • The letter notes that several migrants had already begun the process to seeking asylum in other jurisdictions.

Why it matters: The letter to Garland is the latest plea for an investigation from elected officials and attorneys representing the migrants, most of whom fled Venezuela.

  • Lawyers representing about 30 of the migrants, who have since moved to Joint Base Cape Cod, filed a lawsuit on their behalf Tuesday against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has taken credit for the chartered flights and says he will continue flying out migrants.
  • A Texas sheriff launched a criminal investigation into the flights.

Worth noting: Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for DeSantis, told Axios after that lawsuit was filed that the flights to Martha's Vineyard were a voluntary program that gave the "homeless, hungry and abandoned" migrants a "fresh start in a sanctuary state."

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