Fried Callls on DOJ to Investigate DeSantis Trafficking of Migrants

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Sep 15, 2022

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting an investigation into the transportation of 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts by Governor Ron DeSantis. The migrants were transported across state lines by plane from and undisclosed location and dropped in the small island community without notice to local authorities.

“Governor DeSantis has fallen to a new low, using families and children to gain political attention for his own ambitions. However you may feel about our immigration situation, transporting 50 migrants across the country to a small town without notice shows a complete disregard for human life, and very well may be illegal,” said Commissioner Fried. “I am thankful the residents of Martha’s Vineyard mustered the empathy our Governor clearly lacks, but an investigation is necessary to uncover how this travesty unfolded and how Floridians may be paying for it.”

The letter reads as follows:

September 15, 2022

Attorney General Garland,

As an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, I am writing to urge your office launch an immediate investigation into the actions of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the transportation of 50 migrants by plane to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The use of human beings to score political points is first and foremost detestable. Additionally, this maneuver raises serious legal questions and will have untold repercussions on the individuals caught up in the Governor’s political stunt. An investigation is necessary to understand who these immigrants are, how they were transported across state lines, and if their rights were violated.

Early media reports describe many of the migrants as Venezuelan, having first crossed the border in Texas before being released. It is unclear how these immigrants arrived in Florida and found themselves being transported by plane from an unknown city in Florida to Massachusetts. One migrant reported a promise of “housing and work” if transported to the small island community, however, it is unclear who made this promise or if it will be fulfilled. Regardless of potential shelter and job opportunities, the decision to send 50 migrants to a small community without notice shows a complete disregard for the safety of the migrants and the resources necessary to adequately address their care. According to media statements, the island’s sole homeless shelter does not operate during the summer and can only accommodate ten people. Thankfully, residents have stepped up to provide critical resources in the short-term, but the long-term sustainability and consequences, the migrant’s ability to attend their immigration court hearings, are far from known. The needs on the ground will only be amplified should Governor DeSantis chose to use taxpayer dollars to traffic more human beings to this community as a political stunt.

To use human beings as political pawns as Governor DeSantis has done is morally reprehensible, meriting an immediate investigation and appropriate action by the Department of Justice on behalf of the impacted migrants.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Nicole Fried

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

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