September 16, 2022

Immigration attorney Rachel Self spoke at St. Anthony's Church on Martha's Vineyard after interviewing Venezuelan migrants about how they got here. She calls the ordeal "kidnapping," and she has a few other things to say about Gov. Ron DeSantis's "sickening" political stunt.

"We believe they are victims of kidnapping, and the perpetrators of this breathtakingly cruel political stunt should know that it may well result in every individual who was induced onto those planes by fraud becoming eligible for a U.S. visa," she said.

"Accounts from the migrants who arrived last night make it clear that they were lied to again and again and fraudulently induced to board the planes," Self said. "They were told there was a 'surprise present' for them and that there would be jobs and housing awaiting them when they arrived. This was obviously a sadistic lie — not only did those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead to any single office or authority on Martha's Vineyard, so that even the most basic human needs arrangements could be made. Ensuring that no help awaited the migrants at all was the entire point."

"Before they boarded the planes, the migrants were processed by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, who listed falsified addresses on the migrants' paperwork," she continued. "Agents apparently chose random homeless shelters all across the country, from Washington State to Florida, to list the migrants' mailing addresses, even when told by the migrants that they had no address in the U.S."

"Throwing obstacles in the way of people fleeing violence and oppression, some of whom walked through ten countries in hope of finding safety, is shameful and inhuman," Self said. "Many of these victims are deprived of medical care despite clear existing injuries. These people are human beings who were deprived of basic human rights."

"To the people who find themselves plane-wrecked on our Island, I have a message for you," she added. "You are not alone We have your backs. We got you. If the intention of those who perpetrated this horrendous act was to create a crisis, they have failed."

And the price tag for Floridians for DeSantis's cruel stunt is staggering:

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