Did Republicans Kidnap Migrants? DOJ Must Investigate

9 mins read

Last Friday, MAGA Governor Ron DeSantis used Florida taxpayers’ money to pick up two planes full of migrants in Texas and transport them unannounced to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. No one knew they were coming, no one was waiting for them when they arrived, and they had been lied to about where they were going and why. Nonetheless, volunteers did the best they could to help them on short notice.

Calling DeSantis “America’s Chief Bully,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “This is nothing more than a stunt, but it’s done with intention—cruel intention to humiliate and dehumanize. It’s disgraceful, it’s repugnant and, I would argue, it’s illegal.” 

Newsom and Illinois Governor Pritzker have called upon the Department of Justice to investigate this latest in a series of dehumanizing stunts by Republican governors using migrants as pawns. Governor Abbott of Texas has courted MAGA notoriety by transporting 10,000 migrants to Chicago, Washington DC, and New York City without warning since April, while Governor Ducey of Arizona has transported more than 1,800 migrants to Washington DC since May. 

These MAGA stunts are a shameful echo of the so-called “Reverse Freedom Rides” of 1962, in which southern segregationist White Citizens Councils gave Black people one-way tickets to northern cities with false promises of jobs, housing, and better lives.

What Abbott, Ducey, and DeSantis have done is arguably a variety of human trafficking. Current state and federal human trafficking laws only make it a crime to relocate people and children for the purposes of sex or some other labor. However, migrants have told reporters in Martha’s Vineyard and other transfer cites that they were enticed onto the buses and planes with false promises of jobs and housing—and not told that accepting the offer of transportation would make them miss their asylum hearings. 

A Texas sheriff has already announced an investigation of DeSantis’s actions, but this stunt demands attention at the federal level as well. It is a federal crime to transport someone across state lines against their will, including tricking them into going “voluntarily.” That the deception includes missing their asylum hearings could mean that witness tampering laws apply as well. 

Call upon the Department of Justice to investigate these abusive political stunts and prosecute those responsible under all applicable federal laws.

Student loan relief: What you need to do, and when you need to do it by

The Biden Administration is delivering student loan relief on multiple fronts.

  • If you’ve been working for schools, the government, or non-profits, you may be eligible for expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
  • The Department of Education is working on a new income-driven repayment plan that won’t allow your balance to increase as long as you make your minimum payments.
  • Borrowers who got fleeced by certain for-profit schools will be able to apply to have entire loans cancelled.
  • And, oh yeah, there’s that $10,000 or $20,000 of one-time forgiveness.

The biggest catch: There are deadlines. Some of these are available now but closing soon; others aren’t open yet but coming soon.

Our blog post lays out in simple terms what you can do to get all the relief available to you, and when you’ll have to do it by. Read our explainer here!

Get your updated COVID-19 booster!

The new booster for 2022 that covers the BA.5 variant is available right now through healthcare providers and at chain pharmacies (including Walgreens and Safeway). It’s also now available through county vaccination sites and MyTurn. Kids 12 and older can get Pfizer, and adults 18 and older can get Pfizer or Moderna. Make your appointment now to restore maximum protection. 

It’s also time for you to get your flu shot. Flu shots are available through your healthcare provider and at all chain pharmacies, including Costco.

If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens. Our next meeting is on Thursday, Sept. 22. Details on how to register below.

ISF Federal Working Group meeting: Thursday, Sept. 22, 7:30–9 PM. Register here to join our regular Zoom meeting, where we work together to develop strategies for influencing our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to support a progressive agenda. We welcome anyone who wants to participate and contribute, even if you’ve never attended an ISF meeting before.

Indivisible Sonoma County “Hold the House” Online Meeting with guest Dr. Asif Mahmood, CA-40: Thursday, Sept. 22, 7:30–9 PM. The road to holding our House majority runs through California, where we have the opportunity to reclaim districts that flipped from blue to red in 2020—and where we know that votes will be counted and certified fairly. Please join Indivisible Sonoma as they welcome CA-40 Congressional candidate Dr. Asif Mahmood for their sixth “Hold the House” meeting. RSVP here.

You can also RSVP now for future “Hold the House” meetings with Josh Harder (CA-09) and Mike Levin (CA-49). 

Bay Area Coalition Phone Banks: Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Help our friends at Swing Left talk to voters about the upcoming primaries and midterms. Join Swing Left and the Bay Area Coalition on Wednesday evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoons to make calls to voters in California and around the nation. Sign up to participate from home or in person:

  • TODAY, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 5–7 PM
  • Saturday, Sept. 24, 10 AM–12 PM
  • Sunday, Sept. 25, 1–3 PM

Voter registration drive in the California Central Valley with Swing Left: Saturdays. Do you want to help register voters in Central Valley CD-13 and CD-22, from Modesto to Bakersfield? Join our friends in Swing Left every weekend until Tuesday, November 8, for door-to-door and COVID-safe canvassing to register voters. Sign up here:

  • Saturday, Sept. 24, 9 AM–3:30 PM
  • Saturday, Oct. 1, 9 AM–3:30 PM
  • Saturday, Oct. 8, 9 AM–3:30 PM

About this week’s photo

If you’ve seen our newsletter posts on Twitter and Facebook, you might have noticed that we include a photo or graphic with each issue.

Today’s image is a photo of migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard speaking on Sept. 14 to volunteers who turned out to help them. The photo was taken by CJ Gunther and was featured in the Washington Post article about the events.

Keep Fighting,

The Indivisible SF Team

If you’d like to support our all-volunteer team:


Image: Cj Gunther/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Since the January 2017, more than 4,000 San Franciscans have united as Indivisible SF to march in the Women's Marches, protest the Muslim Ban, meet regularly with our Members of Congress, and make thousands of phone calls to their offices to pressure them to do everything in their power to counter the policies and politics of Trumpism. There is much work in progress and many actions to come.

Members of Indivisible SF are defined by our action and find solidarity in our shared opposition to Trump and Trumpism. Each of us explicitly reserves our individual stances on specific issues for other forums as we believe resisting Trump is more important than any single issue. We adhere to a Code of Conduct that welcomes and respects everybody.

Members of Indivisible SF come from all kinds of backgrounds and political persuasions. Some of us are first-time activists and others have been at this for decades. We are citizens and non-citizens. Most importantly, we are all patriots that want the best for our country and are willing to work for it.

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