A man who helped get migrants on DeSantis' flights to Martha's Vineyard says he feels betrayed: 'I never, ever knew that it was a governor' behind the stunt
A man who helped recruit migrants for flights bound for Martha's Vineyard says he feels betrayed.
The man told CNN he had "nothing to do with the deception." CNN didn't identify him.
Dozens of migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard this month in a move planned by Ron DeSantis.
A man who helped recruit migrants to get on flights bound for Martha's Vineyard as part of a stunt by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida earlier this month told CNN he felt deceived and had no idea that the Republican politician was behind the operation.
"I have nothing to do with the deception," the man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said in an interview with CNN published on Tuesday.
"I was always aware that it was a benefactor who was paying for things. I repeat: I never, ever knew that it was a governor or politician. So my only will has always been to help people," the man said, adding that "yes, of course" he felt betrayed.
The man, also a migrant, told CNN that he'd been living on the streets of San Antonio for about a month before he met a woman, identified as "Perla," who he said roped him into the scheme.
He said the woman promised him money, food, and clothes as long as he found other migrants willing to get on flights to Massachusetts from Texas.
He told CNN she also gave him $10 McDonald's gift certificates to give to those who agreed to get on the planes.
"She had told me that the people who were going to Massachusetts, before I sent them, she had told me that they were going to receive them," the man told CNN, adding: "They were going to be given shelter, a place to stay. They were going to help them with the language, and those who had children, they were going to study."
About 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, arrived unannounced on two chartered planes from Texas at the upscale liberal Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard on September 14.
The flights were organized by DeSantis, an outspoken critic of the Biden administration's immigration policies.
A Boston-based nonprofit has filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of a group of the migrants alleging that DeSantis and other Florida officials carried out a "scheme to defraud vulnerable immigrants to advance a political motive."
The suit says the migrants were persuaded with $10 McDonald's gift certificates and false promises of employment, housing, and other assistance to get them to board the planes out of San Antonio.
The lawsuit says a woman, identified as "Perla," and a man, identified as "Emanuel," waited outside shelters in Texas to offer migrants the gift certificates and tell them about the transport, "pretending to be good Samaritans offering humanitarian assistance."
The man who spoke with CNN said his "only intention was to help the people so they could get some stability."
"Everything was always voluntary," he added. "No one was ever forced to do anything."
The man said once the migrants touched down in Martha's Vineyard, he received a message from one of them saying they realized that no one had been expecting them. CNN quoted that person as saying: "There's nothing here. We're adrift here. These people didn't even know we would arrive."
The man told CNN that he contacted Perla, who texted him: "Tell them to call the numbers we gave them. The church. The state has to take care of them."
People in Martha's Vineyard came to the aid of the migrants, who were later relocated to a military base in Cape Cod designated as an emergency shelter.
An attorney representing a group of the migrants told Insider last week that they'd been "traumatized" by the stunt.
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