Attorneys for migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard looking into origination of brochures they believe were handed out under ‘false pretenses’

The brochure lists refugee services, including cash and housing assistance, clothing, transportation to job interviews, on-the-job training and assistance with registering children for school, and other resources.

A Venezuelan migrant, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity for fear of negative impacts on his immigration case, shared photos of the brochure. He said the migrants were told that the brochure contained information about the aid they received in Massachusetts, but they were not told about the differences between refugee and asylum seeker programs.

Migrants are, in many cases, asylum seekers, not refugees. Refugees apply for protection overseas and are admitted through the Refugee Admissions Program, while asylum seekers apply within the United States.

The asylum seekers, who local officials believe originated from Venezuela, arrived at Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, flying from Texas under arrangements made by Florida Gov. DeSantis, who is up for re-election this year, said he wanted to draw attention to the border crisis. Greg Abbott of Texas Gov. – another Republican bidding for re-election – flocked thousands of immigrants to New York and Washington, D.C. throughout the summer to highlight his criticism of the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

DeSantis’ move was strongly condemned by the White House, Democratic officials and immigration lawyers, who say the migrants were misled about their final destination.

At a Friday news conference, DeSantis said everyone signed the waiver and knew where they were going. “It’s clear that’s where they were going,” he said, “it’s all voluntary.”

‘Massachusetts welcomes you’

The brochure, now posted online by a legal group representing several cases, features a photo of a road sign that reads “Massachusetts Welcome You” and a photo of a nondescript lighthouse. It also provides a brief summary of what rehabilitation agencies can do for refugees, in both English and Spanish lessons.

The brochure also lists the telephone number of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Migrants, which told CNN it was not a document published by his office.

The brochures have been posted online by a legal group representing several cases.

The front includes a photograph of the state of Massachusetts and a list of community service agencies located on Martha’s Vineyard and at least one on Cape Cod.

The list includes a number of Martha’s Vineyard community services – which eventually received migrants and helped them find initial accommodation at a church on the island.

Oren Selstrom, litigation director for Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, who is representing many of the migrants, said her clients left Texas, hoping that everything publicized in the brochures were waiting for them after they landed.

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According to the group, lawyers are probing the origins of the brochures as to when and why they were given to the migrants.

DeSantis again defended sending migrants to Massachusetts during an interview with Fox News on Monday night, saying, “The salesperson who did this for Florida provided them with a packet that contained a map of Martha’s Vineyard. It contained Martha’s various There were numbers for services. Vineyards, and then it had numbers for the overall agencies in Massachusetts that handle things related to immigration and refugees.”

It was not clear whether he was referencing the brochure in question.

Two migrants previously told CNN that while they were in San Antonio, they decided to go on a trip after two women and a man hit the streets near the Migrant Resource Center.

One of the migrants, Wilmar Villazana, said they were kept in a hotel for five days before the flights and were well looked after. The women told him they were from Orlando and worked for private organizations that raise money to help migrants, Villazana said.

Most expatriates are not eligible for the programs referred to in the brochure

“The type of program that is being discussed here is not something that is generally going to be available to any immigrant,” Selstrom explained. “This is highly misleading in the sense that it was used to entice our customers to visit under the guise that this support was available when, in fact, the type of program has highly specialized merit.”

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Most immigrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard have been processed by federal authorities and will go through immigration proceedings where an immigration judge will ultimately decide whether or not they can remain in the United States. Given their status as asylum seekers, not refugees, they are likely not eligible for the benefits listed in the pamphlet.

Refugees are eligible for benefits available to them through the federal government, including cash assistance and medical assistance. Generally, asylum seekers are not eligible for federally funded benefits, although once granted asylum, they may receive some assistance.

Migrants continue to receive humanitarian services at Joint Base Cape Cod after Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s office voluntarily moved them there, activating more than 100 National Guardsmen throughout the effort.

US Attorney for Massachusetts Rachel Rollins told reporters on Thursday that she would talk with members of the Justice Department about sending immigrants from Gov. DeSantis to Martha’s Vineyard.

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