DeSantis Dismissed from Martha’s Vineyard Migrant Flight Lawsuit

Governor Ron DeSantis took home yet another legal victory on Monday after a federal judge dropped him from a lawsuit filed by migrants he flew to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis had arranged charter flights to the island for as many as 50 Venezuelan migrants in 2022 amid an influx of crossings at the southern border.

The class-action suit, which had been filed in the district of Massachusetts, claimed that DeSantis had “designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting [the migrants] for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.”

However, in a 77-page decision issued by U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs on Monday, DeSantis was formally dismissed as a defendant from the case.

“The court cannot ascertain what actions were undertaken by whom and therefore cannot determine which, if any, of the individual defendants transacted business or caused injury here, leaving it no choice but to find that, at least on this record, personal jurisdiction has not been established,” ~ U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs

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The decision was later praised by DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern, who suggested that Florida might soon organize another “relocation flight” for illegal immigrants.

“As we’ve always stated, the flights were conducted lawfully and authorized by the Florida Legislature,” said Jeremy Redfern, a spokesperson for DeSantis. “We look forward to Florida’s next illegal immigrant relocation flight, and we are glad to bring national attention to the crisis at the southern border.”

The DeSantis administration has organized multiple rounds of charter flights in recent years to counteract the Biden administration’s ‘open border’ policy. In addition to the September 2022 flights to Martha’s Vineyard, roughly a dozen migrants were flown to Sacramento, California, last year.

DeSantis recently floated the possibility of organizing a third round of flights, suggesting last month that his administration could arrange to relocate newly arriving Haitian migrants.

“We do have our transport program also that’s going to be operational,” DeSantis said. “Haitians land in the Florida Keys, their next stop very well may be Martha’s Vineyard.”

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Illegal border crossings have continued to reach record highs in recent months under the Biden administration. According to figures released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), total encounters along the southern border reached 189,922 in February–a sharp increase from the previous February record of 166,010 in 2022.

Monthly crossings reached an all-time high in December, with more than 302,000 encounters reported. Since the start of fiscal year 2024 in October, at least 70 individuals on the FBI terror watchlist have been arrested by Border Patrol.

In a statement published last month, acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said the agency was working “aggressively” to secure the border.

“CBP continues to work with our foreign and domestic partners to enhance enforcement efforts: aggressively targeting unscrupulous human smugglers and swiftly applying consequences against those who cross the border illegally and have no legal basis to remain in the United States,”

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