DeSantis news - live: Migrant flight funding revealed as Florida governor’s polls surge

·34-min read
DeSantis news - live: Migrant flight funding revealed as Florida governor’s polls surge

A group of 48 mostly Venezeulan migrants who the state of Florida transported in a surprise flight to Martha’s Vineyard last week have sued governor Ron DeSantis for the “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme.”

The class- action lawsuit comes as at least two law enforcement agencies are also investigating the actions of Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott for potential illegality.

A new report has revelaed the funding for Mr DeSantis’s migrant flights. The contractor hired by the governor is a longtime GOP donor.

Meanwhile, a plane reportedly full of asylum-seekers heading from Texas to Delaware so far hasn’t materialised, even as officials there worried they’d be the latest to be surprised with Florida’s highly controversial scheme of flying migrants unannounced to liberal jurisdictions.

Governor DeSantis and his aides have defended sending migrants to Democratic-leading states and cities in protest of what they characterise as the president’s “open border” policy.

Key points

  • DeSantis hit with class action suit

  • Six unanswered questions about Ron DeSantis’s migrant flights

  • Migrants on the Martha’s Vineyard flight weren’t in US ‘illegally,’ despite DeSantis claims

  • Texas sheriff announces investigation into DeSantis flights

  • Jared Kushner condemns migrant flights organised by DeSantis

US arrests on Mexico border reach more than 2 million within 11 months

22:30 , Alex Woodward

US authorities detained more than 203,000 people crossing into the country from Mexico, according to government figures, which pits the tally to more than 2.3 million arrests within the last 11 months.

That exceeds the previous fiscal year’s record of more than 1.7 million arrests.

Immigration authorities and advocates have both attributed to the historic number of people arriving at the border to government and economic collapse across Central and South America.

“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest US border,” according to US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus.

“Our dedicated teams of skilled agents continue to work around the clock to secure our border and safely and humanely process and vet every individual encountered, but those fleeing repressive regimes pose significant challenges for processing and removal,” he said in a statement this week.

“At the same time, the number of migrants entering from Mexico and northern Central America has decreased for the third consecutive month, as the Biden-Harris Administration works with our partners in the region to address the root causes of migration, facilitate repatriation, and take thousands of smugglers off the streets,” he added. “More individuals encountered at the border without a legal basis to remain will be expelled or removed this year than any prior year.”

Flight company hired by Florida has ties to state officials

21:42 , Alex Woodward

Vertol Sytems Company Inc received more than $1.5m from the state of Florida for the governor’s migrant flights. The company and its leadership also have donated tens of thousand of dollars to the state’s GOP figures.

That includes Congressman Matt Gaetz, whose former law partner is the state’s current public safety coordinator – who represented Vertol in at least one civil lawsuit case in 2017, NBC News found.

Read more about the tangle of GOP-connected donors to the governor’s controversial flight plans and where the company’s money is going in the state:

Ron DeSantis chartered migrant flights from GOP donor, report finds

Migrants begin leaving Cape Cod shelter after Martha’s Vineyard flights

21:18 , Alex Woodward

Following their arrival at a large shelter operation in Cape Cod on Friday, some migrants are beginning to leave the facility and head to other destinations, according to officials.

“They’re all there voluntarily, they all chose to go there, the ones that are there, some have already left to go meet with family and other places in the country,” state Rep Dylan Fernades told The Independent.

For others who are staying at the shelter, there is no “hard timeline” for anyone to leave, and “what happens next for them depends first and foremost what they want to do,” which could depend on their asylum cases and discussions with housing case managers and immigration attorneys, among other factors.

After their apprehension, processing and release at the US-Mexico border, the migrants are on the radar of federal authorities as they await their asylum claims to play out in immigration courts.

“Some of them walked through multiple countries over ... a few days, just to get to America,” Rep Fernandes said. “[They are] asylum seekers seeking asylum from a nefarious, brutal and collapsing Venezuelan regime. They’re here legally.”

Two people have left for New York City, and others planned to go to Salt Lake City, Utah and Seattle, Washington, where they had contacts, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

‘He was broken’: Migrants were injured, kidnapped and victims of abuse, according to volunteers

20:35 , Alex Woodward

Venezuelan migrants seeking asylum in the US survived injuries, torture and kidnapping during their dangerous trek to the US-Mexico border, according to volunteers who offered support at a shelter on Martha’s Vineyard.

“What they had to go through is horrible,” according to Sergio Racig, who told the Martha’s Vineyard Times that he spent the night with a group of men at the church where the migrants slept during a a two-night stay on the island after unannounced flights from Texas chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had taken them.

One man was “kidnapped in Mexico,” according to Mr Racig. “The cartels kidnapped him and he was tortured.”

The man had a “broken jaw” and “missing teeth” and was receiving psychological support from an interpreter.

“He was broken,” Mr Racig told the newspaper.

Another volunteer called an ambulance for the man to be taken to a local hospital, where he received X-rays and other care.

Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer said that two people were transported from the church to nearby care.

Fact check: GOP governors exaggerate Biden’s role on the border – and ignore the ways he’s like Trump

20:30 , Alex Woodward

The Biden administration’s border looks a lot like the one under Trump, despite Governor DeSantis and others claiming the president created a “crisis.”

Migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard also are not “illegal” but were excercising rights protected under US and international law by seeking asylum in America. They already were processed, and released, by authorities.

The Independent’s Josh Marcus looks at some of the claims made by GOP officials to defend migrant busing:

Fact check: Ron DeSantis distorting immigration facts as he defends flights

Massachusetts lawmaker joins calls for Justice Department to investigate flights

20:00 , Alex Woodward

Massachusetts state Rep Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, and other state lawmakers have joined calls to the US Department of Justice for an investigation into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s migrant flights.

Lawmakers “believe these and other reported actions intended to mislead” the group of Venezeualan immigrants seeking asylum in the US, “violate their rights and derail ongoing immigration proceedings.”

“We respectfully and urgently request that your office open an investigation regarding the conduct of all those involved ... given the gravity of the situation and the potential for perpetrators to repeat their actions,” according to the letter.

‘This was all a scam’: Migrants reveal DeSantis plans for Delaware flight

19:30 , Alex Woodward

Days after a group of migrants boarded planes chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a woman was recruiting other migrants to board another flight – this time from San Antonio to Delaware.

The flight ultimately never happened. State agencies, local aid groups and the White House had coordinated with officials at a coastal airport anticipating the arrival of another plane organised by Florida’s Republican governor.

But around the same time that Mr DeSantis was defending his scheme on Fox News, arguing that migrants signed waivers to “voluntarily” board the Martha’s Vineyard flights, another group of migrants were filling out similar forms from their temporary hotel rooms, preparing for what would they were told was a flight to Delaware, where they would receive financial assistance and employment.

Instead, the group was told early the next morning that the flight was canceled.

‘This was all a scam’: Migrants reveal DeSantis plans for Delaware flight

How the DeSantis administration spun the Delaware flight

19:00 , Alex Woodward

After DeSantis officials called reports “disinformation” and suggested that Democratic officials and the media got “punked” into believing a migrant flight was headed to Delaware, new reporting reveals how migrants were lured to a hotel with false promises of a flight to the state, where they could receive employment aid and other assistance. Neither would happen.

On Tuesday, the White House said it was coordinating with state officials and aid groups preparing for the potential arrival of a plane with migrants sent from San Antonio to coastal Delaware near the beach home of President Joe Biden.

Local media, aid groups and state officials gathered at the small airport, anticipating its arrival. A flight that left Texas with travel paths through Florida and Tennessee ultimately landed in New Jersey.

At an unrelated press conference on Tuesday, Governor DeSantis said he could not confirm reports of the flight and lambasted Democratic officials who criticised his $12m plan to ship migrants to other states.

“The only thing I hear them getting upset about it is 50 who end up in Martha’s Vineyard,” he said. “Sanctuary jurisdictions should bear the brunt of the open borders.”

Migants interviewed by The Miami-Herald explained how they were taken to a hotel and promised a flight to Delaware, which never came. Some were stranded there, 10 miles from a migrant resource center and shelter, while others were bused back to town without an explanation why they flight was canceled.

DeSantis aides said the media and Democrats got ‘punked’ by the Delaware flight that never happened. Migrants say they were duped

18:26 , Alex Woodward

After state agencies, immigration attorneys and humanitarian aid groups huddled at an airport in Delaware, anticipating the arrival of a plane with migrants from San Antonio, a person close to the DeSantis administration suggested the media and others got “punked”.

Right-wing media, DeSantis aides and other personalities mocked the Biden administration and others for anticipating the flight. His campaign rapid response director Christina Pushaw called reports of the flight “disinformation.”

But a group of migrants told the Miami-Herald that they were recruited by a woman who brought them to a hotel before planned flight to Delaware – relying on the same false promises given to the group of migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard last week.

The flight was ultimately canceled, and the group was stranded at the hotel or sent back to a San Antonio.

‘They opened up their phone when they landed and saw they were surrounded by water'

18:10 , Alex Woodward

The group of migrants who landed on Martha’s Vineyard last week were initially “terrified” after learning that the planes were landing on the island, not on the mainland in Boston, where they would have closer access to immigration services and other assistance.

“None of them knew they were going to Martha’s Vineyard,” state Rep Dylan Fernandes told The Independent.

“They opened up their phone when they landed and saw they were surrounded by water. And that was incredibly anxiety provoking to them,” he asid. “Te community here on the Vineyard, I think, showed what being compassionate [is] and just treating human beings with common dignity and respect that every human being deserves. ... That’s what our community is all about.”

Massachusetts lawmaker: Migrant families ‘incredibly grateful’ following move to Cape Cod shelter

17:25 , Alex Woodward

Massachusetts state representative Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha’s Vineyard, told The Independent that the Venezuelan immigrants who arrived on the island are “incredibly grateful” for the community support, and are in good health following a move to a larger Cape Cod shelter.

“Everyone’s needs are more than met,” he told The Independent on Thursday, one week after their surprise arrival in the state.

“Every person ... has their own space, families have their own space. There’s a lot of access to health care, and including dental health and other types of care, like crisis management and mental health,” he said.

Caseworkers from housing organisations are helping them with longer-term housing solutions, and immigration attorneys also are assisting with their asylum cases and navigating their legal status and resource while in the US.

“The people who are there are in good spirits and good health and are deeply appreciative,” he said.

Beto O’Rourke slams Greg Abbott’s ‘cruel and unkind’ migrant ‘stunts'

16:30 , Alex Woodward

During an appearance on The Daily Show, Democratic candidate for Texas governor Beto O’Rourke slammed Greg Abbot’s ongoing scheme to send hundreds of migrants in the state to Democratic-led states and cities.

He condemned the Republican governor’s “cruel and unkind” “stunts” that have bused migrants and families hundreds of miles from where their asylum cases have originated, largely stranding them at the mercy of local aid groups in the cities where they have arrived.

“What if Texas led the way in rewriting our immigration laws to reflect our values, our interests and our needs, and we said, ‘Look, [if] you want to come to this country, you must follow our laws,’ but our laws will follow our values,” Mr O’Rourke said.

Jared Kushner condemns DeSantis’s migrant flights

16:00 , Alex Woodward

Trump’s son-in-law and former aide Jared Kushner said he was “very troubled” by Governor DeSantis’s plans to fly migrants from the US-Mexico border to Martha’s Vineyard.

Mr Kushner appeared on Fox News’ Outnumbered in the aftermath of last week’s scheme, while Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey continue to sending migrants who crossed the border to cities like Washington DC and New York.

“I personally watch what’s happening, and it’s very hard to see at the southern border, I also – we have to remember that these are human beings, they’re people, so seeing them being used as political pawns one way or the other is very troubling to me,” Mr Kushner said.

Jared Kushner condemns DeSantis’s migrant flights

Texas sheriff faces ‘influx’ of threats for investigating migrant flights

15:30 , Alex Woodward

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar’s office has reportedly received numberous “hateful emails” and threats after announcing an investigation into migrant flights out of San Antonio, coordinated by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration, several states away.

Texas sheriff threatened for investigating DeSantis’s migrant flights

False promises, a legal investigation and a mystery woman: Unanswered questions about Ron DeSantis's migrant flights

15:00 , Alex Woodward

After two nights in a church shelter, migrants who arrived in Massachusetts were moved to a larger shelter operation on the mainland, with separate rooms and medical and legal support. State officials report that the families are in “good health and good spirits,” with access to legal services, humanitarian aid and interpreters.

But so much remains unclear about the migrants’ journey, how Florida officials are identifying and collecting migrants in other states as part of the Republican governor’s state-sanctioned plans to send them to Democratic-leading states and cities, and how funding earmarked for his scheme is paying for it from several states away.

Holly Baxter: ‘Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott seem to be using migrants to put across their extreme views'

14:24 , Alex Woodward

Writing for The Independent Premium, US editor of Voices Holly Baxter writes how two Republican governors are ramping up political stunts ahead of the midterms at the expense of vulnerable migrants and their families:

DeSantis and Abbott using migrants to put across their extreme views | Holly Baxter

Migrant says he was paid to recruit migrants for Florida’s controversial Martha’s Vineyard flights

13:00 , John Bowden

A 27-year-old Venezuelan migrant says he was given $200 to entice his fellow asylum-seekers to board planes or buses bound for Democrat-held areas chartered by Florida’s governor.

And he was instructed to do so with promises of aid that never materialised or was ever real to begin with, he now says.

If true, it would prove that Florida officials used deceptive practices to lure migrants thousands of miles across the United States for purely political reasons.

Migrant says he was paid to recruit others for Martha’s Vineyard flight

DeSantis leads Trump in purple-red Florida amid migrants controversy

11:00 , John Bowden

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis now leads Donald Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup among voters in Florida, according to a new Axios poll.

The development comes as Mr DeSantis has become a hero on the far right for his effort to use state funding to transport migrants from Texas to Democrat-held areas, even as he admits that large groups of migrants entering his state remain nonexsistent.

The performance in the poll is notable, too, because Donald Trump won the Florida primary against Sen Marco Rubio, the state’s senior senator, during the 2016 primary in what was one of his last moves to eliminate his rivals in the GOP presidential contest.

Read more at Axios:

Donald Trump rages that Ron DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard stunt was his ‘idea’

09:00 , John Bowden

Donald Trump is privately raging at fellow Republican Ron DeSantis over the governor’s decision to authorise flights carrying roughly 50 migrants last week from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard, Rolling Stone reported.

The magazine reported that two inside sources close to the twice-impeached president had heard him vent about the Republican governor taking the limelight off Trump and accused him of using the migrant flights to prop up his national profile ahead of a potential bid for the White House.

Read more in The Independent:

Trump rages that DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard stunt was his ‘idea’

More than $1m in Florida funding steered to GOP donor amid migrants controversy

07:00 , John Bowden

A contractor owned by a Republican donor is seeing a massive windfall thanks to Ron DeSantis’s efforts to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts, and to other Democratic strongholds.

New analyses of state records indicate that more than $1m in funding for the flights was given to the company as it carries out Mr DeSantis’s efforts to embarrass the Biden White House.

Read more from Alex Woodward in The Independent:

Ron DeSantis chartered migrant flights from GOP donor, report finds

Abbott and DeSantis promise more migrant flights

05:00 , John Bowden

The GOP governors of Florida and Texas have shown no signs of letting up in their campaign to embarass the Biden administration by organising flights of migrants to liberal-controlled cities. The plan has been roundly criticised for supposedly deceptive practices and the overall legality of the process.

“There’s also going to be buses, and there will likely be more flights,” Mr DeSantis said on Friday. “The Legislature gave me $12 million. We’re going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we’re protecting the people of the state of Florida.”

Mr Abbott, whose “Operation Lone Star” has bused more than 10,000 migrants into liberal cities across the country, has also promised more of the same.

“Texas will continue sending migrants to sanctuary cities like Washington, DC until President Biden and Border Czar Harris step up and do their jobs to secure the border,” he said last week in a statement.

Read more from Josh Marcus:

Latest migrant flight reportedly heading to Biden’s summer home

GOP's hard-line tactics on migrants refocus midterm debate

04:00 , John Bowden

Ron DeSantis and other Republicans are working overtime to refocus the midterms on the issue of immigration as their party faces the unfavourable prospect of voters casting their ballots amid unprecedented criminal investigations into Donald Trump as well as the GOP’s new campaign to restrict abortion rights nationwide.

“It will be a big issue in the elections, I can tell you that,” Mr DeSantis vowed on Tuesday. “It’s already made more of an impact than anyone thought it could possibly make. But we’re going to continue to make more of an impact.”

Read more in The Independent:

GOP's hard-line tactics on migrants refocus midterm debate

White House preparing for DeSantis migrant flights to Delaware as state agencies ready response

03:00 , John Bowden

The White House says it is taking over the task of coordinating with state agencies to prepare for the arrivals of groups of migrants organised by the governors of Florida and Texas after those Republicans refused to communicated with local governments or aid groups at all.

“We are coordinating closely with state officials and local service providers who are prepared to welcome these families in an orderly manner as they pursue their asylum claims,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Read more about the administration’s efforts from Alex Woodward:

White House preparing for DeSantis migrant flights to Delaware

Jared Kushner: DeSantis using migrants as ‘political pawns'

02:00 , John Bowden

Ron DeSantis’s use of state funding to transport migrants thousands of miles away from Texas all the way to Massachusetts appears to be too much for even Jared Kushner, a top adviser (and son-in-law) of former President Donald Trump.

He joined the ranks of those describing the governor’s efforts as dehumanising in an interview with Fox News.

“I personally watch what's happening, and it's very hard to see at the southern border, I also—we have to remember that these are human beings, they're people, so seeing them being used as political pawns one way or the other is very troubling to me,” he said.

Read more:

Jared Kushner condemns DeSantis’s migrant flights

Texas congressman rips DeSantis and Abbott

01:00 , John Bowden

Rep Joaquin Castro furiously condemned the governors of Texas and Florida this week for what he called a hypocritical stance towards left-leaning governments in Central/South America and the migrants who have fled them in recent years.

"DeSantis, Abbott etc are constantly beating up on places like Cuba and Venezuela because the leaders are so repressive and make the countries dangerous for people, and yet when people try to flee, they treat them like shit,” argued the congressman.

Jon Stewart blasts DeSantis over ‘d***ish’ migrant flights

Thursday 22 September 2022 00:00 , John Bowden

Former Comedy Central star Jon Stewart sounded off against Ron DeSantis over the latter’s scheme to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts, using funding meant to help the people of Florida.

“This stunt did exactly what he wanted it to do, which is jumped his profile, made him a hero amongst those, for whom d***ishness is one of those sole characteristics that they’re looking for in their leaders,” said the liberal comedian.

Read more about his remarks from Graig Graziosi:

Jon Stewart blasts DeSantis over ‘d***ish’ migrant flights

Marco Rubio spreads misinformation about migrants

Wednesday 21 September 2022 23:31 , John Bowden

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is joining the list of Republicans spreading lies about migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard as the backlash against the GOP-led effort grows.

Mr Rubio went on Fox News to claim, falsely, that the migrants suing the governor of Florida over the scheme were “not even here legally”.

But, of course, that isn’t true. The migrants in question are asylum-seekers, which is a longstanding legal method of applying for residence in the United States.

Read more at Fox News:

Greg Abbott designates drug cartels as ‘terrorist’ groups

Wednesday 21 September 2022 23:02 , John Bowden

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed an executive order aimed at fighting international narcotics cartels headquartered in Mexico and elsewhere in Central/South America.

The order, signed by Mr Abbott on Wednesday, officially designates such groups as “terrorist” organisations and redirects local law enforcement agencies to redouble their efforts aimed at thwarting the activities of those groups in Texas.

In actuality, the order will have little effect on how law enforcement treats such investigations.

Read more of his order here:

Marjorie Taylor Greene launches 10-minute rant about borders when being asked to help Ukraine

Wednesday 21 September 2022 22:35 , John Bowden

Marjorie Taylor Greene has filmed a 10-minute rant complaining that she was being asked to support Ukraine in its war with Russia.

And as usual, she’s claiming that Joe Biden does not care about the US borders amid historic levels of migration.

“There is a country’s border that he (Biden) cares about and it is not this country’s border, it is Ukraine’s border,” the congresswoman charged.

Read more from The Independent’s Graeme Massie:

Marjorie Taylor Greene complains about being asked to help Ukraine in 10-minute rant

Congresswoman responds to report that DeSantis used GOP donor for migrant flights: ‘OF COURSE'

Wednesday 21 September 2022 20:15 , John Bowden

Rep Ilhan Omar of Minnesota had a withering response to a report on Wednesday from The Intercept detailing that the contractor hired by Ron DeSantis for his scheme to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard is a longtime GOP donor.

“Of COURSE this was gonna turn out to be the case. These are Republicans. It’s not enough to be cruel, violent, and stupid. Gotta be corrupt while they’re at it, too!”

Marco Rubio fumes that asylum seekers can sue DeSantis

Wednesday 21 September 2022 19:52 , John Bowden

Florida’s senior US senator, Marco Rubio, is furious over an announcement that dozens of asylum-seekers who say they were lured onto flights for Massachusetts by officials working for Ron DeSantis will be suing the governor.

The migrants say that the governor’s workers used deceptive practices and promised them aid that never materialised.

“They have lawyers representing them in court, suing the American government … It angers me, and it should anger everybody,” he argued.

Mr DeSantis’s scheme is now being investigated by law enforcement and faces a civil court battle announced on Tuesday as well.

Contractor who got hundreds of thousands in Florida state funding is GOP donor

Wednesday 21 September 2022 19:28 , John Bowden

The contractor who was paid more than a half million dollars to transport migrants from Texas to Massachusetts at the behest of Florida’s governor is a supporter of the governor who has donated to GOP candidates.

The donations were uncovered by The Intercept and add a new layer to Ron DeSantis’s use of state funds for a program that is increasingly being denounced as a political and potentially illegal stunt.

Read more at The Intercept:

Billboard truck displaying feed of migrants’ press conference follows DeSantis

Wednesday 21 September 2022 18:25 , John Bowden

A Democratic activist has chartered a billboard truck to follow Ron DeSantis and display video footage of attorneys for migrant asylum-seekers detailing allegations against him that are part of a class-action lawsuit filed yesterday.

DeSantis admits Florida not seeing ‘mass movements’ of migrants

Wednesday 21 September 2022 18:00 , John Bowden

With pressure growing to explain why he used state funds to bus migrants across the United States from Texas to Massachusetts, Florida’s governor is now admitting that mass “caravans” or groups of migrants are simply not a problem in his state.

Mr DeSantis and other conservatives have long fearmongered over the arrival of large groups of migrants at the southern border and have claimed that the busing efforts are necessary to reduce the strain on their respective states’ systems.

The governor made the admission at a press conference this week.

Watch below:

Texas sheriff faces ‘influx’ of threats for investigating DeSantis sending migrant flights to northeast

Wednesday 21 September 2022 17:36 , John Bowden

Add a Texas sheriff’s department to the list of law enforcement agencies threatened with violence by conservatives after announcing action to criminally investigate their political leaders.

The Bexar County sheriff’s office says that their agency has received a surge of calls as well as “numerous” threats towards department personnel in the wake of its announcement of an investigation into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s efforts to bus migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard using state funds and supposedly via the use of deceptive practices.

The situation follows a rise in similar threats to FBI officials after the agency’s raid of Mar-a-Lago.

Read more from Gino Spocchia in The Independent:

Texas sheriff threatened for investigating DeSantis’s migrant flights

Migrants and civil rights attorneys file federal lawsuit against DeSantis administration

Wednesday 21 September 2022 17:00 , John Bowden

Ron DeSantis is now facing a class-action lawsuit over what a group of 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, described as a “fraudulent” scheme to lure them onto buses bound for Martha’s Vineyard.

The lawsuit alleges the governor and members of his administration targeted immigrants who were recently released from shelters with false promises of job opportunities, education and financial assistance before they landed on the island with only volunteered support from local groups and emergency assistance from state agencies.

Read more from Alex Woodward in The Independent:

Migrants and civil rights groups file federal lawsuit against DeSantis administration

DeSantis’s team lured hungry migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift cards, lawsuit says

Wednesday 21 September 2022 16:21 , John Bowden

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s team lured migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift certificates to gain their trust as part of a “scheme” to fly them to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas, according to a new federal lawsuit.

The resistance to the scheme launched by Mr DeSantis and his GOP colleague in Texas, Greg Abbott, is growing as the two have been accused of deceptive practices.

The move has been attacked by the White House as an “illegal” and political stunt.

Read more from Sravasti Dasgupta in The Independent:

Ron DeSantis’s team lured migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift cards, lawsuit says

False promises, a legal investigation and a mystery woman: Unanswered questions about Ron DeSantis's migrant flights

Wednesday 21 September 2022 15:49 , John Bowden

Two planes with 48 migrants, most of whom fled Venezuela in the wake of that country’s political and economic collapse, landed unannounced on the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts on 14 September.

Days later, officials in Delaware were anticipating another Texas flight bound for the coast, roughly 20 miles from President Joe Biden’s beach home. Both were organised by Florida’s governor, the firebrand conservative Ron DeSantis, who is vying to raise his national profile ahead of an expected 2024 presidential run.

But much remains unclear about the governor’s plan, including how Florida funds are paying for it, who is working with the state to put migrants on planes, and what will happen next to migrants and their families seeking asylum in the US.

Alex Woodward reports for The Independent:

Six unanswered questions about Ron DeSantis’s migrant flights

Sheriffs investigating migrant flights say they’re receiving violent threats

Wednesday 21 September 2022 15:23 , John Bowden

Law enforcement agencies investigating Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott over their twin schemes to bus migrants around the country say they are now receiving violent threats from conservatives.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson from the Bexar County Sheriff’s office told VICE News that “there have been numerous threats, an influx of calls to our dispatch and administrative offices, along with hateful emails received” since the announcement of that county’s investigation.

“Additionally, as in any instance when our office receives threats precautionary measures will be made for safety of all personnel,” they said.

Read more at Vice:

Jared Kushner condemns DeSantis’s migrant flights

Wednesday 21 September 2022 15:02 , John Bowden

Ex-President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview that he was “very troubled” by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flying migrants from the US-Mexico border to Martha’s Vineyard.

He made the comments on Fox News, where many conservatives are likely to hear his opposition to the plan that has won Mr DeSantis praise from his fans and condemnation from rights groups and humanitarian organisations.

“I personally watch what's happening, and it's very hard to see at the southern border, I also—we have to remember that these are human beings, they're people, so seeing them being used as political pawns one way or the other is very troubling to me,” Mr Kushner said.

Read more from The Independent’s Eric Garcia:

Jared Kushner condemns DeSantis’s migrant flights

New poll shows DeSantis leading Trump in hypothetical Florida primary

Wednesday 21 September 2022 14:39 , John Bowden

A new survey of voters in his home state suggests that Florida’s Ron DeSantis would win at least one state in a hypothetical GOP primary matchup against Donald Trump, were it to occur today.

Mr DeSantis’s lead over the ex-president comes as the former has enacted a plan to use state funds to bus migrants from Texas to Democrat-led jurisdictions in what appears to be an obviously political effort to embarass the Biden administration. The latter remains at Mar-a-Lago, in the same state, facing multiple criminal investigations.

Read the latest poll results at Axios:

Fact check: Ron DeSantis distorting immigration facts as he defends flights

Wednesday 21 September 2022 14:27 , John Bowden

The govenors of Florida and Texas have roundly attacked the Biden administration as they continue their efforts to bus groups of migrants to Democrat-led areas, a scheme that has been denounced as a costly political stunt.

But in reality, the border under Joe Biden looks very similar to the border under the Trump administration; and that’s not the only mistruth that has been floating around in recent days.

Governors of the two states are now also conflating asylum-seekers with illegal migration — a dangerous development that stems from the right-wing belief that America should not offer asylum to refugees and should favour natural-born citizens.

Read more from The Independent about the real situation behind the bluster:

Fact check: Ron DeSantis distorting immigration facts as he defends flights

DeSantis’s team lured hungry migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift cards, lawsuit says

Wednesday 21 September 2022 10:00 , Shweta Sharma

Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s team lured migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift certificates to gain their trust as part of a “scheme” to fly them to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas, a new federal lawsuit has alleged.

The lawsuit has been filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights, Boston, on behalf of a class of affected immigrants, including those stranded in Martha’s Vineyard, and Alianza Americas, a network of migrant-led organisations supporting immigrants.

The Independent’s Sravasti Dasgupta reports.

Ron DeSantis’s team lured migrants with $10 McDonald’s gift cards, lawsuit says

Fact check: Ron DeSantis distorting immigration facts as he defends flights

Wednesday 21 September 2022 09:00 , Josh Marcus

How historic is the current border situation?

Is Joe Biden creating an “open border” that’s responsible for these trends?

And were the migrants on the controversial, Florida-funded Martha’s Vineyard flight in the US illegally?

Find out in our fact check.

Fact check: Ron DeSantis distorting immigration facts as he defends flights

Biden responds to rumoured migrant flight to Delaware with a joke

Wednesday 21 September 2022 07:59 , Josh Marcus

President Joe Biden responded to reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has organised another flight to send migrants to the northeast, this time sending a plane to Delaware near the US president’s beach home.

In unscripted remarks to reporters after speaking on campaign finance, Mr Biden goaded the Republican governor over the latest political stunt.

“He should come visit, we have a beautiful shoreline,” Mr Biden told reporters on Tuesday when asked to respond to Mr DeSantis’s latest gambit.

More from our story:

Biden taunts DeSantis over reported migrant flight to Delaware

Reported Delaware flight of migrants sends officials scrambling

Wednesday 21 September 2022 07:15 , Josh Marcus

The White House is coordinating with state officials and aid groups preparing for the potential arrival of a plane with migrants sent from Texas to coastal Delaware near the beach home of President Joe Biden.

The flight, due to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, could mark the second flight within a week organised by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration to move people seeking asylum in San Antonio to northeastern towns.

“We are coordinating closely with state officials and local service providers who are prepared to welcome these families in an orderly manner as they pursue their asylum claims,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Get the full story.

White House preparing for DeSantis migrant flights to Delaware

GOP's hard-line tactics on migrants refocus midterm debate

Wednesday 21 September 2022 06:30 , Josh Marcus

They’ve delivered migrants on planes and buses to Washington, D.C., New York City — even Martha’s Vineyard. And the Republican governors of Florida and Texas may be just getting started.

Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas insist such dramatic steps are need to highlight a genuine crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where thousands of migrants stream into the country illegally each day. But weeks away from their own competitive reelections, friends and foes alike acknowledged that such hard-line tactics have effectively refocused November’s midterm elections — at least, temporarily — away from abortion rights and toward an issue more favorable to Republicans.

A defiant DeSantis on Tuesday blasted the Biden administration’s inaction on the Southern border and celebrated his own policies for making illegal immigration “a front-burner issue” ahead of the midterms.

Read more.

GOP's hard-line tactics on migrants refocus midterm debate

Legal pressure on DeSantis for migrant flights continues with lawsuit

Wednesday 21 September 2022 05:45 , Josh Marcus

Attorneys for a group of migrants who boarded unannounced flights to Martha’s Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who allegedly directed a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to transport a group of 50 people, including families with small children, as part of a political stunt.

The lawsuit alleges the governor and members of his administration targeted immigrants who were recently released from shelters with false promises of job opportunities, education and financial assistance before they landed on the island with only volunteered support from local groups and emergency assistance from state agencies.

Attorneys allege that the migrants were exploited for “political purposes” after arriving on the island last week.

Get all the details about the bombshell lawsuit.

Migrants and civil rights groups file federal lawsuit against DeSantis administration

Why both parties have failed to create a stable immigration system

Wednesday 21 September 2022 05:00 , Josh Marcus

Every few months, the right declares there’s a new “crisis” at the US-Mexico border. In reality, both parties have created an unstable US immigration system through decades of inaction.

Sadly, this piece from last summer is still relevant, as many of the false claims and feckless solutions regarding immigration are once again making the rounds in the political discourse.

What Trump and Biden both get wrong about the migration ‘crisis’ at the border