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Immigration

Illegal migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard on ‘voluntary basis’ and ‘signed wavers’ file lawsuit against DeSantis, others

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A group of illegal immigrants that were flown to Martha’s Vineyard last week have come together to file a federal class-action complaint against Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, and others on Tuesday.

The plaintiffs claim they were duped into taking the flight under false pretenses and suffered harm that “at a minimum exceeds $75,000.” The Washington Examiner reports that “DeSantis’s office shrugged off the suit as ‘opportunistic’ and countered that the flights to Martha’s Vineyard were done on a ‘voluntary basis’ to give ‘homeless, hungry, and abandoned’ immigrants a ‘fresh start in a sanctuary state.”

The class-action complaint says, “Defendants and their unidentified accomplices designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.”

“Destitute, stranded, and immensely vulnerable, the individual Plaintiffs and class members were faced with an uncertain situation in an unfamiliar location. They were left in the dark, with nothing, on a tarmac on an island,” the suit continues.

In a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner, DeSantis’ office wrote:

“It is opportunistic that activists would use illegal immigrants for political theater. If these activists spent even a fraction of this time and effort at the border, perhaps some accountability would be brought to the Biden Administration’s reckless border policies that entice illegal immigrants to make dangerous and often lethal journeys.”

“It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours,” the statement added.

DeSantis has also insisted the traveling migrants were given a packet of information and signed consent forms. “Millions of people since Biden has been president illegally coming across the southern border. Did they freak out about that? No,” DeSantis told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “It’s only when 50 get put into Martha’s Vineyard, which wasn’t saying they didn’t want this. … They said they were a sanctuary jurisdiction.”

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Economy

NY Lawmakers want to tax tech giants to get $500M to fund unemployment benefits for illegal migrants

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New York lawmakers are debating over a proposed Democratic initiative that would pave the way for a multibillion-dollar fund designed to provide unemployment benefits for illegal immigrants. Spearheaded by state Senator Jessica Ramos, a Queens Democrat, the proposal has ignited passionate discussions within the Senate Finance Committee, where it currently awaits further deliberation.

The Center Square reports the proposal would utilize a $500 million trust fund earmarked specifically to offer jobless benefits for individuals who find themselves ineligible for traditional unemployment payments and other public assistance programs. To finance this ambitious endeavor, proponents of the plan are advocating for the imposition of a novel tax targeting tech behemoths like Google and Amazon. This tax, aimed at digital advertising revenue, is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain the fund.

Ramos has alluded to her belief that migrants are a fundamental contribution to the state’s economy. Despite their authorization to work, payment of taxes, and active involvement in the labor force, undocumented immigrants face a glaring disparity—they are excluded from accessing vital safety nets like unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs.

In a social media post, Ramos cited the expiration of federal unemployment insurance for freelancers and the depletion of the Excluded Workers Fund. She argues vehemently for a safety net aligned with the evolving dynamics of the labor market, one that extends support to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.

The proposed fund, aptly named the Unemployment Bridge Program, outlines comprehensive eligibility criteria encompassing a spectrum of marginalized workers—from undocumented migrants to freelancers and individuals recently released from incarceration or immigrant detention. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures, the program endeavors to streamline the application process, ensuring equitable access to unemployment benefits for those in need.

The initiative comes in the wake of prolonged deliberations regarding jobless benefits for undocumented immigrants and nontraditional workers in New York. Amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state previously allocated $2.1 billion to the Excluded Workers Fund, offering a lifeline to those excluded from conventional unemployment benefits.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 underscores a commitment to supporting asylum seekers, with significant allocations directed towards housing and legal assistance. The proposal has met with opposition from Republicans, who argue for prioritizing legal residents and taxpayers in the allocation of state resources. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt contends that limited resources should be reserved exclusively for those who have contributed to the state’s tax base.

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