Two planes carrying about 50 migrants primarily from Venezuela, sent by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, arrived unexpectedly and without advance notice at an airport on Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday, sending local officials into a scramble to make accommodations and deploy resources to help.
In an apparent political stunt meant to highlight the crisis at the southern border, DeSantis claimed responsibility for the relocation, criticizing President Joe Biden’ policies and justifying the move on the basis of Massachusetts’ status as a “sanctuary state.”
“We are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures,” DeSantis said.
Many current and former politicians—including Hillary Clinton—condemned DeSantis’s actions, with some suggesting they amount to human trafficking. But do they?
“It’s an interesting question,” said Amy Farrell, director and professor of criminology and criminal justice at Northeastern.
Farrell says that human trafficking claims are adjudicated through a federal statute established in 2000 called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which lays out methods for prosecuting traffickers and protecting victims. In cases that involve human trafficking, prosecutors must accordingly prove that victims were “recruited, harbored, transported … obtained … for labor or services” by means or use of “force, fraud or coercion.”