D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has revealed his team has opened an investigation into the possible deception targeting migrants recently transported to Democratic-leaning areas including the nation’s capital by GOP governors including Greg Abbott of Texas.
Racine didn’t specify whether the investigation was being handled by his office’s criminal or civil divisions, although his ability to bring criminal charges is limited to misdemeanor offenses. Other charges are handled by the local U.S. Attorney’s office, but Racine can bring and has brought substantial civil lawsuits, which could end with financial penalties among other issues for those targeted. As reported by The Texas Tribune in cooperation with ProPublica, migrants on a recent trip organized by the team of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis weren’t the only ones potentially seriously misled about the nature of their journey, even including where they were going. Some of the migrants dropped off outside the vice president’s residence in D.C. by Abbott’s team have also been deceived, according to available info. Among those transported, some believed the trip would bring them to Union Station in D.C., where they could connect to train and bus service to a broad array of destinations.
“Instead, he said, they were dropped off at about 6 a.m. in an unfamiliar spot, where a church group quickly organized to pick them up,” the Tribune reported, summarizing revelations from Domingo Garcia, who leads the advocacy group the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Information previously emerged about migrants on the DeSantis-backed trip from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, being told of supposed prospects for help with employment and housing, neither of which the DeSantis administration actually set up, it seems. The Florida governor’s team didn’t even provide advance notice to local officials in Massachusetts that dozens of vulnerable migrants, including recently homeless individuals, would soon arrive.
According to Racine, there have already been interviews conducted by members of his team with migrants who were on these Republican governor-led trips. Migrants “have talked persuasively about being misled, with talk about promised services,” the official explained. The Tribune notes fraud and civil rights violations among the potential offenses possibly under examination. There is also a probe into the DeSantis team’s actions by the inspector general overseeing the U.S. Treasury Department amid concerns about the governor’s usage of money connected to COVID-19 relief funds and whether that was allowed. Within the state, DeSantis is also facing additional scrutiny, including in a lawsuit from a Democratic state legislator, for having drawn from money specified under state standards for use in transporting migrants from the state of Florida.
In a recently released collection of docs covering the process of DeSantis’s team setting up the business end of the trip, Texas wasn’t mentioned — but Texas obviously isn’t Florida! Abbott’s team has already transported over 12,000 migrants to locations including D.C., New York City, and Chicago. Besides DeSantis, Arizona GOP Governor Doug Ducey is also transporting migrants. The trips, which are voluntary but which the deception targeting those aboard suggests participants were essentially pressured into joining, have raised serious concerns about respecting the human rights of those essentially used as “props,” as D.C.’s Attorney General characterized what has happened.