Lawyers Who Pushed Haverhill into Ward Elections Win Ruling on Behalf of Martha’s Vineyard Immigrants

U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs.

The Boston law firm that pressured Haverhill into adopting mostly ward-based elections received federal court blessing to press legal claims against Vertol Systems Company for flying migrants from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard during the fall of 2022.

Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights said Monday it will “immediately proceed with legal claims against the plane company” following a ruling dated Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs. She ruled Vertol “aided and abetted” an act harming the migrants who were victims of state-sponsored kidnapping when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent about 50 people to Massachusetts on behalf of his “relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

Following the plane’s landing, state Rep. Dylan Fernandes said on social media, “Currently immigrants are being dropped off on Martha’s Vineyard by chartered flights from Texas. Many don’t know where they are. They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Martha’s Vineyard migrants and Alianza Americas. In a release, Lawyers for Civil Rights said “Vertol contracted with the State of Florida to carry out the flights and was responsible for transporting the migrants to Massachusetts.

Lawyers added, “The favorable ruling is a major victory in the Martha’s Vineyard case, and it sends a crucial message: private companies can—and will—be held accountable for helping rogue state actors violate the rights of vulnerable immigrants through illegal and fraudulent schemes.”

Burroughs decided, “Latinx individuals were (1) specifically targeted, (2) the only ones approached and (3) the only ones on the flights, allow for the inference that Vertol and the other defendants invidiously discriminated against (the migrants.)”

Claims against DeSantis and others were dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning they could be reinstated.

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