Featured Issue: Interstate Transport of Migrants and Erroneous Addresses
This page includes background information and resources on the internal transportation of migrants from one state to another, including busing between states and the flying of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. It also discusses the distinct but overlapping issue of erroneous addresses on documents.
AILA member resources and pro-bono efforts are available on this page.
Table of Contents
Background and Updates
Since spring 2022, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona have been sending charter buses with migrants to Union Station in Washington, D.C. These buses arrive with little notice, usually early in the morning (between 1:00 and 3:00 am), and volunteers sometimes wait for buses that never arrive. Governor Abbott began busing migrants to New York City in early August, and he expanded this practice to include Chicago by the end of that month. In mid-September, he sent two buses to Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in DC. Fox News was present to greet these arriving buses, while local volunteers report that they did not receive advance notice.
It is important to note that the migrants arriving by bus to all of these cities consented to the trip. Many of them take advantage of these politically motivated bus rides to save money and get closer to their destination. Some common themes we are hearing of among migrants arriving via bus to these cities include:
- Receiving documents with the address of a nonprofit, either within the city of their arrival or elsewhere (see below)
- Being told that they could receive help and housing at a local nonprofit that does not provide those services
- Very short periods of parole, including as low as 10 to 15 days from their date of entry
The local response varies from city to city, and each city has a different set of resources and capacity to support these migrants. After the basics of reception and shelter, one of the biggest concerns we are hearing from our local and state partners is legal support, including changing addresses, filing for humanitarian relief, and accessing employment authorization.
Flights to Martha’s Vineyard
In what is being described as a “political stunt,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida sent two flights of 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on September 14, 2022. The small island community did not have advance notice of this but rose to the occasion to support the migrants before the state of Massachusetts moved the migrants to a military base on the mainland. AILA member Rachel Self eloquently summarized her observations in a press statement given in the aftermath. The flights to Martha’s Vineyard are notably different from the busing occurring in other cities for the following reasons:
- The migrants did not consent to go to Martha’s Vineyard.
- They were told they were going to Boston and were given a false pamphlet with incorrect information about Massachusetts.
- The migrants were targeted and recruited by a woman named “Perla” and sent from Texas via Florida and South Carolina. Because none of these migrants came from Florida, some are alleging this is a misuse of state funds.
- A Texas sheriff opened an investigation into the legality of Gov. DeSantis’ actions in Texas the following Monday.
- On September 20, Alianza Americas filed a class action suit in the District Court of Massachusetts. The suit alleges illegal seizure/false arrest, violation of substantive due process, equal protection, and violation of the supremacy clause, as well as “conspiracy to deprive Plaintiffs of their civil rights.”
Like the migrants arriving by bus, those in Martha’s Vineyard had false addresses listed on their documents. As of writing, there are no further updates on the legality of Gov. DeSantis’s actions.
- AILA Twitter thread compiling critical news updates on the Martha’s Vineyard flights
- Asylum Seekers File Complaint against Gov. DeSantis after Being Flown to Martha’s Vineyard – September 20, 2022 (CourtListener)
- Migrants Who Were Flown to Martha’s Vineyard Sue Florida Governor, New York Times, September 20, 2022
- DeSantis Defends Martha’s Vineyard Migrant Flights after Texas Investigation Opens, NPR, September 20, 2022
- After Migrants Arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, a Community Gathered to Welcome Them, NPR, September 16, 2022
- DeSantis’s Reverse Freedom Ride Allegedly Violated Law in Two States, Defrauding Migrants and Misappropriating State Funds, New Yorker, September 20, 2022
- Why Ron DeSantis Is Baiting Biden on the Border, Vox, September 22, 2022
- Is That Legal? How Scores of Migrants Came to Be Shipped North, New York Times, September 16, 2022
The issue of erroneous addresses on migrant paperwork is an overlapping but distinct one from transporting migrants. Since spring 2022, nonprofits began receiving government paperwork (including Notices to Appear (NTAs) and calendar hearing notices) for migrants that were not their clients. Similarly, some migrants began appearing at nonprofits with NTAs that listed the nonprofit’s address. While this issue is prevalent across the country, many of the migrants being transported around the country are arriving with paperwork with a nonprofit address.
Immigration attorneys should incorporate screening for a nonprofit address on NTAs and hearing notices into their practice. While many nonprofits are actively working to resolve this issue for the migrants for whom they receive notices, it is possible that a future client of yours could have already missed a hearing date because of this issue.
- Cascading Errors of a Wrong Address, Think Immigration, August 24, 2022 – provides further background information on this issue.
- AILA and Partners Submit Recommendations to Fix Erroneous Addresses on Asylum Seekers’ Documents, September 15, 2022
- Hundreds of Migrants Were Sent to ‘Live’ in a Brooklyn Heights Office Building, Curbed, Sept. 15, 2022
- Border Agents Keep Sending Immigrants to Wrong Addresses with Little Regard for How It Could Affect Their Court Cases, Advocates Say, BuzzFeed.News, September 21, 2022