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The fake brochure that DeSantis used to con the migrants into boarding the plane to Martha’s Vineyard, and other facts about this cruel political stunt

DeSantis may have been inspired by a segment on Tucker Carlson’s show

A still from Tucker Carlson’s xenophobic “Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard” segment.
He should just ’fess up and call the show The Tucker Carlson White Power Hour.

A couple of days ago, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz astutely tweeted that “when GOPers do depraved stuff it’s worth looking for the Fox host who suggested it.”

To no one’s surprise, the Fox host who suggested it was the host of Fox’s own White Power Hour: Swanson frozen foods heir Tucker Carlson, host of an old-timey whitefear-and-ragestoking evening show.

The migrants were given fake brochures about Massachusetts’ refugee benefits

DeSantis insists that the migrants boarded the plane voluntarily, but the migrants say that they were misled by a “blonde mystery woman” named “Perla,” who offered them McDonald’s gift cards, a free flight to a “sanctuary,” and other assistance. 

The newsletter Popular Information obtained a phony brochure written in English and Spanish that was provided to the migrants, pictured below:

Designed (poorly) to look like an official brochure, it says that migrants who arrive in Massachusetts would be eligible for a lot of benefits, including:

  • 8 months’ cash assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation to job interviews
  • Job training
  • Job placement
  • Registering children for school
  • Assistance applying for Social Security cards

Popular Information got the brochure from Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based law firm representing 30 of the migrants.

DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske told Florida’s Voice that the brochure was legitimate and that the information it contained was accurate. However, what she omitted is even more important:

  • The brochure was not produced by the State of Massachusetts, nor is it official. It’s a “homemade” document pieced together from cut-and-pasted text from various Massachusetts government sites.
  • While the benefits listed exist, the migrants to whom they were given are not eligible for them. While refugees are eligible for such benefits, these migrants are seeking asylum, and refugee benefits don’t apply.
  • The devil is in the details. In trying to provide DeSantis with a loophole, Fenske insisted “the brochure does not say migrants immediately have access to the benefits.” But it worked — the idea was to convince them that those benefits were forthcoming, and all they had to do was board the plane.

Boston-based immigration attorney Matt Cameron summed up the situation quite well:

“DeSantis clearly does not know the legal difference between refugees (who are eligible for resettlement benefits) and asylum applicants (who are not).

It’s legally no different than promising someone who you know to have had no military service that they will be eligible for veterans benefits.”

Cameron also said the brochures “are either evidence of criminal intent or criminal stupidity.” My feeling:

Loki: “Bit of both.”

FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) paid a secretive Oregon-based company to fly the migrants, and now that company’s website is offline

Here’s a record of a payment from FDOT to one “Vertol Systems Company Inc.” dated September 16, 2022 for the sum of $950,000. It’s courtesy of the @TampaniaBlog Twitter account:

They tweet:

In fact, if you go to the Transparency Florida site, you’ll see that FDOT has already paid Vertol Systems a total of $1.565 million dollars:

Vendor search result from Transparency Florida showing $1.565 million in payments to Vertol Systems

Typically, you’d be able to go to Vertol Systems’ site and see that they’re based in Oregon’s Hillsboro rather than Florida’s Hillsborough County and that they’re in the business of “specialized aircraft solutions specific to unique requirements.”

But you can’t. The site has been taken down…

…and quite interestingly (yet unsurprisingly), their LinkedIn company profile is unclaimed:

A Texas sheriff is launching an investigation into these flights, since they were a join operation with Texas

From the Daily Beast:

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar confirmed the investigation during a press conference Monday “to clear the air for everyone,” alleging that 48 migrants were “lured under false pretenses” to stay at a hotel for a couple of days, shuttled to a plane, flown to Florida, and eventually transported to Martha’s Vineyard, where they had been promised work and solutions to other problems.

From Sheriff Salazar’s Twitter account:

DeSantis’ plan is backfiring

And garbage human that she is, Christina Pushaw, Rapid Response Director for DeSantis’ reelection campaign tweeted this:

Here’s a screencap, just in case she deletes it, as she is wont to do:

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