The migrants who crossed the southern U.S. border and were later flown in two planeloads to Martha’s Vineyard were given falsified addresses corresponding to “random homeless shelters” for their official paperwork, according to a Boston immigration attorney.
Rachel Self suggested Friday that this was done purposefully by Department of Homeland Security officials to make it more difficult for the migrants to stay in the country.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took credit for arranging and funding the flights, which landed Wednesday afternoon at the wealthy island community off the coast of Massachusetts. He aimed to make a point about the surge in migration along the border with Mexico, even though his state does not abut the country.
The Miami Herald reported that Self is assisting with the migrants’ cases.
She told reporters that the group of 50 men, women and children ― largely from Venezuela ― were processed by DHS agents before leaving San Antonio.
Rachel Self, a Boston immigration attorney tells you everything you need to know about immigrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard.
They’d been given falsified U.S. addresses by immigration officials, perhaps ensuring that they’d be deemed in the country illegally. pic.twitter.com/mBp7AqBow1
— 🇺🇦Skyleigh Heinen🇺🇸 (@Sky_Lee_1) September 16, 2022
Some of the migrants had specifically told the DHS agents that they had no mailing address in the United States, Self said.
They had allegedly been instructed to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ― the wrong agency ― once they changed addresses.
“This is especially troubling, as anyone with even the most basic understanding of the immigration proceedings knows that USCIS was not the agency with whom the migrants would have to record their addresses,” Self said during a press conference.
An underage migrant (center) is loaded onto a bus to be transported to Martha's Vineyard with dozens of other undocumented immigrants on Friday, Sept. 16. (Photo: Dominic Chavez for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Some of the migrants told NPR that a woman named Perla said they could expect work papers after being flown to Massachusetts. But no one was waiting for them, and the group ended up walking around 2 miles to a community center to ask for help, according to Cape Cod Times, a local newspaper.
They were welcomed by islanders and given shelter, cell phones and other supplies, per The Washington Post.
The group was voluntarily relocated Friday to a military base on the mainland that is better equipped to house and feed people for weeks at a time, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.