|photo: Dominic Chavez/Getty |
Human Trafficking Isn't Funny
An open letter by Redd Phlagg
Dear Governor DeSantis:
You don’t know me, and you probably don’t listen much to anyone who doesn’t live in Florida and wouldn't be willing to vote for you (I wouldn’t), but I thought you should know a few important facts. Your recent stunt flying approximately fifty immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard (from the state of Texas, no less) under false pretenses makes me think you don’t understand some very basic legal concepts, especially in regards to immigrants.
Human trafficking isn’t funny. In fact, it’s against the law. It’s what you did to those poor people. Don’t believe me? The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) defines human trafficking as follows:
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers may lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life.
Noncitizen victims of human trafficking and qualifying criminal activity may not have immigration status in the United States and may therefore be fearful of working with law enforcement. Traffickers and abusers often use a lack of immigration status to exploit and control victims. In addition, language and cultural barriers may make it difficult for victims to reach out for help after experiencing victimization.
These immigrants aren’t “illegals” or undocumented persons as you seem to claim. They aren’t refugees, so they wouldn’t receive the benefits you claimed they would in a misleading brochure you had your flunkies give them. They are asylum seekers. The difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker is a very important legal distinction. According to the USCIS web site:
Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. For a legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
You may seek a referral for refugee status only from outside of the United States.
Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who:
Meet the definition of refugee
Are already in the United States
Are seeking admission at a port of entry
You may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of your country of origin or your current immigration status.
These folks were primarily from Venezuela and all had applied for asylum. They were awaiting their court dates in San Antonio, Texas to present their cases. By luring them away with a fake brochure full of false promises of jobs and a better life in “Massachusetts” (without event attempting to help them understand how the US immigration system operates), you committed human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery.
You've always wanted to be a slave seller, didn’t you, Governor? I can tell.
You exploited and controlled these innocent victims by taking advantage of the fact that they could not speak or read English. You instructed your minions to give them fake brochures detailing “benefits” these newcomers would receive if they got on the plane. You then employed Homeland Security flunkies to fill out USCIS paperwork on their behalf with fake addresses in faraway places such as a homeless shelter in Tacoma, Washington. Not knowing they were being tricked to report to a different court, they wouldn’t be able to make their court dates to present their asylum cases in time, thus forcing the immigration judges’ hands to have them jailed and then removed/deported.
What a funny prank! Putting innocent people in jail—people of color, no less—who didn't have a clue they were being duped because they didn't speak English. Yeah, you're a real racist, class act, Guv.
Lying to innocent people who journeyed far from their homes because of persecution and poverty doesn’t keep you awake at nights? I know you’re going to throw your helpers under the bus to keep yourself out of jail and then say it was all their idea, but really… Filling out government forms with the intent to deceive both the immigrants and the federal government? You do understand that USCIS has and does reserve the right to prosecute any and all persons who fill out immigration forms with the intent to commit fraud, right? (Here’s one example: https://www.uscis.gov/archive/uscis-plays-critical-role-in-investigation-leading-to-the-arrest-of-new-york-immigration-attorney)
At least one policing agency is taking this fraud and deception seriously.
The sheriff of Texas’s Bexar County, which contains San Antonio, announced a criminal investigation into the matter on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the migrants had been “‘lured’ under false pretenses” from a resource center in Bexar County before being flown to Florida and then Martha’s Vineyard, “where they were ultimately left to fend for themselves.”
Did you really think everyone would just laugh and say, “What a great political stunt!” and let bygones be bygones? And spending $12 million dollars from Florida’s COVID-19 relief funding to traffic immigrants? Do you think red-hatted MAGA Floridians are going to be happy to see such a huge wad of cash being used to fly immigrants from Texas? Did everyone fly first class or did you just pocket the spare change?
I think it was fortunate that, in the end, the people of Martha’s Vineyard came through and did their best to take care of these lost souls’ needs. Did you get a chuckle out of not even giving the folks up north a warning that they were about to receive guests? I suppose you did laugh. Does the word “sadist” ring a bell with you?
Fortunately, legal aid has come to the assistance of these coerced immigrants.
Three of those migrants are suing DeSantis and other officials, claiming that the stunt caused “economic, emotional, and constitutional harms” to them and their families, including their children.
“These immigrants, who are pursuing the proper channels for lawful immigration status in the United States, experienced cruelty akin to what they fled in their home country,” the lawsuit states.
The actions by the Florida governor and others were a “premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting” the migrants’ vulnerabilities to advance the “personal, financial and political interests” of DeSantis and his allies, the suit alleges.
DeSantis and the other defendants named in the lawsuit “manipulated [migrants], stripped them of their dignity, deprived them of their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process, and equal protection under law, and impermissibly interfered with the Federal Government’s exclusive control over immigration in furtherance of an unlawful goal and a personal political agenda,” the suit adds.
The lawsuit states that the migrants’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and their 14th Amendment due process rights were violated.
Wow. Civil right charges on top of human trafficking and fraud allegations. Y’all have hit the jackpot, Governor!
I’ve said about all I can say to you that’s printable on an open internet forum, so I’ll sign off. It’s arrogant, entitled elitists like you that really make me despise living in this country. It takes so little to be kind to your fellow man—especially those who have suffered greatly in their travels to find a safe place to call home—but scum of the earth like you can’t even see how you’ve gravely wronged these innocents and blackened both your state’s and our nation’s reputations. I sure hope you’re happy.
May you be arrested, tried, and found guilty and imprisoned for your crimes against humanity.
P.S. I hope they find you a very large bunk mate in prison who finds your racist, elitist sense of humor just as disgusting as I do.
[Editor’s note: Feel free to send this letter or a similar one to Gov. Ron DeSantis, voicing your objections to these immigrants' ill-treatment. He’d probably love his mail box/email box overflowing with letters just about now. Here's his contact info: https://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/]
resources to help victims of human trafficking available at:
Asylum, Migration and US Foreign Policy https://popularresistance.org/asylum-migration-and-us-foreign-policy/
DeSantis Defends Phony Brochure. Sheriff Launches Criminal Investigation https://popularresistance.org/update-desantis-defends-phony-brochure-sheriff-launches-criminal-investigation/
Ron DeSantis Chartered Planes from GOP Allied Donor to Fly Migrants to Martha's Vineyard https://www.rsn.org/001/ron-desantis-chartered-planes-from-gopallied-donor-to-fly-migrants-to-marthas-vineyard.html
DOJ to Investigate DeSantis for Cruel Migrant Flights https://truthout.org/articles/house-democrats-call-on-doj-to-investigate-desantis-for-cruel-migrant-flights/
Biden's Peace for Afghanistan is a Humanitarian Disaster
Number of Ultra-Rich Hits All Time High as Someone Dies from Hunger Every 4 Seconds https://scheerpost.com/2022/09/21/number-of-ultrarich-hits-all-time-high-as-someone-dies-from-hunger-every-4-seconds/
Censorship from Book Burning to Racist Babies
Seen on Twitter:
Stop and watch this video.— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) September 16, 2022
Whatever you thought about the governors' stunt... it turns out it was worse.pic.twitter.com/GASpsChOzl
!!! a fake brochure promising eight months cash assistance, food, job training/placement, help with housing + more was given to migrants who were lured by @GovRonDeSantis into boarding a flight to martha’s vineyard. @JuddLegum obtained a copy: https://t.co/nSIwWOE6Zh pic.twitter.com/RLtqoeLPC8— Marisa Kabas (@MarisaKabas) September 19, 2022