A legal team for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, state transportation officials and others have filed a motion to try to dismiss a lawsuit tied to flights that transported migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, allegedly misleading those migrants as to where they were going and what would be available to them when they arrived.
The class action lawsuit, filed in September by the plaintiffs under pseudonyms against DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, argues the migrants were deprived of "their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process, and equal protection under law."
The motion filed Tuesday argues that the Massachusetts federal court does not have jurisdiction over Florida or its officials, or authority over events that happened outside of the state.
The flights in September dropped about 50 asylum-seekers from Venezuela on the island without notice to Massachusetts officials, leading residents and local leaders to scramble to accommodate them. DeSantis has said this is part of his migrant relocation program, which has since been further expanded despite the controversy. The move caused outrage among the immigrant community and advocates, who called it a cruel political stunt. With DeSantis expected to run for president in 2024, it set off a national debate.
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DeSantis has said all migrants went voluntarily.
"This is just an attempt to take out every procedural argument in an effort to not face the fact that this was a cruel political trick," said Mirian Albert, a staff attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs.
NBC10 Boston also reached out to Gov. DeSantis' office Tuesday night for comment, but has not heard back.