Civil rights attorneys, who provide free legal aid to communities of color and immigrants, criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, calling the flights “political in nature,” in a press release Saturday.
Located on the coast of Massachusetts and known as an elegant summer destination for wealthy vacationers, Martha’s Vineyard offered an unusual and unexpected place to send migrants.
James Hagerty, Edgartown town administrator, told CNN on Thursday that officials believe all of the migrants originated in Venezuela. A local fire chief said the same day that the migrants were seven families, four children between the ages of 3 and 8.
Lawyers for the migrants said their clients did not know they were being taken specifically to Martha’s Vineyard.
They were encouraged to board planes with “Boston job assistance and immigration support representatives,” the attorneys said in a press release.
DeSantis has pushed back that the migrants didn’t know where they were going because he said they signed a waiver and were given a package that included a map of Martha’s Vineyard, “Obviously that’s where they were going.” and everything was “voluntary”.
Rachael Rollins, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said Thursday that she would speak with members of the Justice Department about DeSantis’ actions, saying she did not yet have enough information to say whether he broke any laws in sending the migrant to Martha’s Vineyard. He added that their first priority is to make sure that the people who arrive are treated with respect.
CNN reached out to Rollins’ office and Attorney General Maura Healey for comment Saturday.
DeSantis has vowed to continue efforts to relocate migrants.
“These are only initial efforts,” the Florida governor said. “Now we’ve put an infrastructure in place. A lot more will happen.”
CNN’s Nicki Brown contributed to this report.