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In 2022, fifty Venezuelans were flown to Martha’s Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas, by Florida-based Vertol Systems Co. The migrants had been promised work and housing upon their arrival on the wealthy island, known as a playground for rich progressives. They were flown in as part of an effort coordinated by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to highlight the Biden administration’s border policies. However, the migrants were caught off guard and the island’s residents scrambled to provide resources for them, with the National Guard eventually being activated in response. This situation led to a lawsuit against Vertol Systems Co., with a Massachusetts federal judge ruling that the migrants can proceed with their lawsuit against the aviation company.

The 77-page ruling from U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs stated that there was evidence to suggest that Vertol Systems Co. specifically targeted the migrants because they were Latinx immigrants. DeSantis was initially named in the lawsuit, but was later dropped by the judge due to insufficient evidence presented in the case. The ruling allowed the migrants to sue the aviation company for $1.5 million for their role in coordinating the flights to Martha’s Vineyard. The judge also mentioned that the court could not determine which individuals were responsible for the actions that led to the migrants being flown to the island, and therefore personal jurisdiction had not been established in the case.

DeSantis’ office defended the flights, stating that they were conducted lawfully and authorized by the Florida Legislature. They also expressed their intention to continue highlighting the crisis at the southern border by organizing more flights in the future. The governor’s office emphasized that the flights were aimed at bringing national attention to the issues surrounding illegal immigration and border policies under the Biden administration. The migrants were eventually taken to military housing on the Cape Cod mainland after spending two days on the island, where they were provided with support and resources.

Overall, the situation involving the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Vertol Systems Co. and Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted the ongoing debates surrounding illegal immigration and border policies in the United States. The lawsuit allowed the migrants to seek justice for their situation and hold the aviation company accountable for their role in transporting them to the wealthy island. While the legal proceedings continue, the incident also shed light on the challenges faced by migrants and the communities that receive them, as well as the broader political implications of immigration policies in the country.

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