Migrants granted right to sue airline for transporting them to Martha’s Vineyard

Venezuelan migrants are seen gathering at the Vineyard Haven ferry terminal in Martha’s Vineyard. They were then transported to Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay. The image credit goes to Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

A group of Venezuelan migrants assembled at the Vineyard Haven ferry terminal in Marthas Vineyard before being transported to Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay.

In a recent ruling, a federal judge in Boston has given the green light for migrants who were transported from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in 2022 to move forward with their lawsuit against the Florida company responsible for their transportation.

The judge, in addition, dismissed the claims made against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other officials mentioned in the lawsuit.

Three migrants from Venezuela, along with an immigrant rights group, have filed a lawsuit alleging that Florida’s governor, as well as others in his administration and an air transport company, conspired to deceive and infringe upon their civil rights. The migrants claim that they were recruited and flown to Martha’s Vineyard in 2022 under false pretenses.

According to Yanet, Pablo, and Jesus, the migrants involved in the lawsuit, they were informed that they were being taken to Massachusetts. However, it was only shortly before landing that they discovered their actual destination was Martha’s Vineyard.

According to the plaintiffs, a videographer hired by the DeSantis administration captured their arrival and boarding of vans in Martha’s Vineyard. However, they claim that apart from the videographer and the van drivers, no one else on the island had any prior knowledge of their arrival.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs has given the green light for the case to proceed against the air transport company, Vertol. However, the claims against Gov. DeSantis and other members of his administration have been dismissed due to jurisdictional concerns. It is worth noting that this dismissal is “without prejudice,” allowing the legal team representing the migrants to potentially bring DeSantis and others back into the case as it moves forward.

Judge Burroughs strongly criticized the individuals involved in the scheme in her 77-page filing. She emphasized that Vertol and the other Defendants were not genuinely enforcing any immigration laws. Moreover, she expressed her disapproval of rounding up highly vulnerable individuals based on false pretenses and using them as pawns in a divisive national debate.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, who represent the migrants, described the ruling as “a significant triumph in the Martha’s Vineyard case, delivering a crucial message: private companies can and will be held responsible for aiding rogue state actors in violating the rights of vulnerable immigrants through illegal and deceitful schemes.”

Brian Kelly, the lawyer representing Vertol, expressed his satisfaction with the dismissal of most of the case and stated his belief that the Lawyers for Civil Rights have once again made an erroneous analysis of the situation.

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