FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2022
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Chicago, Illinois — Alianza Americas, a coalition of 53 migrant-led organizations fighting for equitable policies in 18 U.S. states, and Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) hosted a virtual press conference this Wednesday, September 21, to provide information about the recently filed class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the State of Florida for the fraudulent relocation of migrants and asylum seekers, amidst a context in which elected officials are using migrants as political pawns ahead of the midterm elections in November. Featured speakers at the conference included Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas; Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of LCR, and Mirian Albert, staff attorney at LCR.
On behalf of Alianza Americas and a nationwide class of affected migrants, Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a federal class action lawsuit on September 20 (access the complaint here) against DeSantis, the State of Florida, and other conspirators for fraudulently inducing a group of nearly 50 people to cross state lines on airplanes from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. For a week now, Lawyers for Civil Rights and a team of pro bono attorneys and community volunteers have been working tirelessly to provide free legal assistance and humanitarian support to the affected migrants.
“Our clients are sharing alarming and chilling stories. They have survived harrowing experiences, not just in their journey to the United States, but also with the fraudulent relocation scheme. We are talking about a man who was tortured and rendered toothless. While kidnapped, his teeth were removed with pliers. We are talking about children who arrived on the island in need of medical attention. The perpetrators abandoned them without shelter or food on Martha’s Vineyard,” said Mirian Albert, LCR staff attorney.
“The lawsuit filed in a Boston federal court is the first national case of its kind in the country, and seeking a nationwide injunction to stop all relocation of immigrants under the fraudulent conditions orchestrated by DeSantis and the State of Florida,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, LCR executive director.
“We represent not only the stranded migrants in the Vineyard, but all similarly situated migrants across the country who have been fraudulently induced by DeSantis and Florida to cross state lines through misrepresentations,” Espinoza-Madrigal said. He added: “We are going to work closely with Alianza Americas to guarantee that our clients are respected, and that our client’s dignity is maintained throughout the legal process. Our clients say that they fled to the United States because this is ‘un pais de leyes,’ a country where the rule of law is respected. What happened to our clients is a violation of their basic civil rights. It’s reprehensible. It re-traumatizes them.”
Alianza Americas executive director Oscar Chacón noted that those affected by the fraudulent and discriminatory relocation scheme are people who have fled Latin America countries due to growing authoritarianism, in addition to severe socioeconomic deterioration exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s sad to see that there are politicians in the United States that have no hesitation whatsoever in actually duping people, manipulating people, tricking people, which only compounds the difficulties that people have already experienced on their way to the United States,” said Chacón. “We believe that what has been done is absolutely morally reprehensible and horrible, it’s an abuse of people’s dignity and rights, it is illegal, and that’s exactly why we are proudly part of this lawsuit.”
Download the press conference here.
Alianza Americas is the premier transnational advocacy network of Latin American migrant-led organizations working in the United States, across the Americas, and globally to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life for communities across North, Central and South America. Alianza’s digital organizing powerhouse is Presente.org.