No, Transporting Undocumented Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard is Not “Literally Human Trafficking”

Hillary Clinton today agreed with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sending 50 undocumented migrants to Martha’s Vineyard is “literally human trafficking.”  There are good-faith reasons to oppose the transportation to migrants to the island, but, as a legal matter, this is legally nonsense.

On the program, Scarborough repeated the common claim that this transportation qualifies as “human trafficking.” In fairness to Scarborough and Clinton, some law professors have echoed this view which is wholly at odds with not just the governing statutory provisions but controlling case law.

Clinton, who is a lawyer, chimed in with the same dubious analysis:

“I think, Joe, you have laid out the craziness of the time in which we’re living where some politicians would rather not only have an issue but exacerbate it to the extent of literally human trafficking, as you said.”

So MSNBC and these legal experts are telling the public that the consensual transport of migrants within the country constitutes human trafficking. Human trafficking is not synonymous with moving humans in traffic. It is a legal term and a serious crime. It is always dangerous to introduce actual law into these legal claims, but it is worth noting a couple of salient facts.

This is not a program designed to put people in “peonage” under 18 U.S.C. 1581. Under 22 U.S.C. § 7102(11), prosecutions are based on “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age” and “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.”

Neither is at play in this program.

The Justice Department has long interpreted its mandate for prosecution under this provision as addressing “a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex.”

States like California follow a similar view:

“Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons or modern-day slavery, is a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological, and may involve the use of violence, threats, lies, or debt bondage.”

I assume that Hillary Clinton is not arguing that Gov. DeSantis is transporting these migrants for exploitive sex or labor.

Even the more general provision in the European Union would not establish such a crime in this case. The Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting Its Victims, 2011 O.J. (L 101) 1, defines the crime as:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer of control over those persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

3. Exploitation shall include, as a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, including begging, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the exploitation of criminal activities, or the removal of organs.

There have been allegations that the migrants were misled into joining these flights and bus trips. However, even with such alleged fraud (which has not been shown to have occurred or to be systemically present), it would not be a transport for the purposes of sexual or labor exploitation or peonage.

Once again, there are a host of objections that can be made to this program without claiming that this is actual or “literal” human trafficking.



181 thoughts on “No, Transporting Undocumented Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard is Not “Literally Human Trafficking””

  1. This seems pretty inarguably to have been a political stunt. It would be a stretch to call it a campaign stunt, but I would imagine DeSantis was motivated by publicity that would lead to more votes for him in the future.

    DeSantis absolutely used deception to get these lawful asylum seekers to essential labor for his (future) campaigns.

    I’d be pleasantly surprised if that were enough to convict him for human trafficking, but Mr. Turley, you are definitely protesting way too much.

    1. Tough shit. He’s bringing to light what we deal with in Texas and other red states. I’m in a small central town and we are being overrun and guess what , we have gone from virtually no crime to lots of crime – drunk driving and sexual assualt of minors particularly. We need to deport them.

      1. RE:”We need to deport them..” First what we need is to adopt the tactics of the pro-life and civil rights movement. A million person march on Washington, from all across the USA, to remind the Congress as to who votes and some picketing in front of strategic homes and offices.

    2. ‘Open Borders’ Joe’s entire existence—as prostituted and demented as it is—-is a campaign stunt. Think the illegal ‘Student Loan Forgiveness (transfer) ” vote-buying fiasco. And “legal asylum seekers”? Come on, man! These illegal aliens are—by definition—-law-breakers. Like bank robbers who also seek a “better existence” … they are criminals nonetheless! If you want them, YOU take them in—- but you won’t! Not unlike the hypocrite Leftist elite (but I repeat myself) on Martha’s Vineyard, which can easily accommodate 200,000 residents, apparently could not handle a mere 50 surprise “guests” and promptly dumped them off their little “Gilligan’s” island. “Oh, NO! Not in our backyard, Lovey!”

  2. Well, Turley, as usual, in your pathetic effort to defend Trump and Trumisim, you omitted a couple of very salient facts. Each of these people was LIED TO: they were told there were housing and jobs waiting for them in Martha’s Vineyard. This LIE is the reason they “consented” to go to Martha’s Vineyard. After Labor Day, there are NO unskilled labor jobs for non-English speaking people on Martha’s Vineyard because that is the end of the tourist season. They wre given papers by DeSantis’s stooges contaiing FALSE ADDRESSES, possession of which, per se, is a crime. Each of these people arrived at the US Border and requested asylum, which they are legally entitled to do. You claim that 18 U.S.C 1581 defines “peonage” as: ““the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.” These people were “obtained” to go to Martha’s Vineyard “through the use of fraud”, so the statutory definition was met.

    DeSantis is indeed politicizing these people to prove he can out-a*hole Trump, because somehow that is just SO appealing to his base–people who just love to run to church but somehow missed the gospel message of “do unto others as you would do unto me” and “when I was a stranger you welcomed me”. AND, you get in a lick or two at Hillary Clinton. Do you get a two-fer bonus when you twist the law AND attack Hillary Clinton in one piece?

    1. Please stop watching MSNBC. There is no proof that these people were lied to. It has been said, although not proven, that they were told they were going to Boston where they wanted to go. If so Boston is a 2 hour bus ride from Martha’s Vineyard. From San Antonino , their point of departure the bus ride is 2 days and 3 hours. So even if everything you claim is true they still wanted to end up in Boston. They could walk there in less time than it took for them to get to the US border and they wouldn’t have to pay the cartels a dime.

        1. Quotes from some of the migrants: “Everlides Dela Hoz, a mother and grandmother, recalled the grueling journey to the U.S. during which she saw people in her group of travelers die from heart attacks, drowning and a snake bite.

          After finding themselves in Martha’s Vineyard, many expressed feelings of uncertainty as they wondered what may come next for them. Others, promised jobs and housing, felt lied to.

          “When we got on the plane, they told us they would give us jobs, a place to live, everything,” Dela Hoz said through a translator. “The whole group is pretty upset. But they did take us to a nice place.”

          “I simply feel misled because they told a lie and it has come to nothing,” Pedro Luis Torrelaba, 36, said Friday.”

          1. So Martha’s Vineyard is not capable of coming up with Jobs for 50 Venezuelan’s ?

            They were mislead – those on the left claim they were sanctuary communities.

            They are not, they are afluent white racist anti-immigrant bigots.
            Who do not want brown people in their back yard.

            BTW most of what you claim is a quote – clearly isn’t.

        2. I saw them get on the plane, no armed guards, no handcuffs, no guns.

          And who would not want to go to Martha’s Vineyard ?

        3. RE: “I’ve seen interviews, so please stop watching Fox.” I’ve seen interviews, too. On FOX!! A Venezuelan admitting up front that he and his fellow travelers are knowingly coming here illegally, because the Biden administration will admit them illegally. They are risking all sorts of dangers, injuries and deaths, and even indenturing themselves to the cartels, because of that laissez-faire policy. What interviews have you seen, other than this MV gambit, where migrants transported to other parts of the country, via ‘the Biden Underground’, reveal what they have been told to expect at their final destinations?. .

      1. What kind of bus can go from Martha’s Vineyard to Boston?

        I guess Boston is famous for its duck boats…

  3. Theory *Versus* Practice

    The D’s theory of immigration: We embrace “diversity.” “Hate has no place here.” We create sanctuary places.

    In practice (e.g., DC, Chicago, MV): Not so much.

    Ditto for the D’s theory of masks, lockdowns/shutdowns, free speech, the rule of law, defunding law enforcement, banning fossil fuels, terms of service.

    In practice: Those theories and policies are only for the “little people,” who must blindly obey. We, the Chosen Ones, are beyond good and evil, above the law, and can do whatever we damn well feel like doing.

    Such a mindset is far beyond mere hypocrisy. It is the totalitarian notion that only a few can know what’s “good in theory.” The many (the peasants, the “deplorables”) must be compelled to practice that theory.

    1. Emigration reform to mitigate progress and collateral damage (e.g. George “fentanyl” Floyd syndrome, underage girls rape… rape-raped and the “burdens” of evidence aborted and sequestered in darkness(i.e. wicked solution)) at both ends of the bridge and throughout.

      That said, Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry), Inequity, and Exclusion (DIE) is practiced under the Pro-Choice ethical religion that denies women and men’s dignity and agency, and reduces human life to negotiable commodities.

  4. Once again, Thank you for introducing facts and definitions as described in U.S.C. Apparently Ms Clinton although a trained lawyer prefers lies, false accusations and outlandish inaccuracies to reality. Sadly, Scarborough lost his credibility a very long time ago when he decided money or his show were more important than providing factual information to us viewers.

  5. When they simply put them on a bus and send them even further into the interior of our country, that means they are complicit in the illegal immigration and are using the shipments as luls.

    1. The facts relative to this situation are still totally fluid but it is almost certain that this is not a matter of “illegal immigration.”

      It is unclear whether they crossed the US border at a point other than at an official port of entry (and later approached a PoE and asked for asylum) or whether they crossed at an official point of entry where they asked for asylum or actually had a visa of some sort such as TPS (with the intent to later ask for asylum). Whichever, they were on the street in the open in San Antonio and “legal.”

      The Boston Globe is reporting that these particular migrants already have asylum hearing dates or paperwork requiring them to check in at certain ICE locations. Newsweek says that as Venezuelans they have TPS (which I think is the likely situation). Newsweek even quotes a Boston immigration attorney saying “that agents of the Department of Homeland Security falsified addresses on the migrant’s paperwork before allowing them to board the planes to Martha’s Vineyard,” So is Biden also complicit?

      1. Legally, you only qualify for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) if you are in country when the TPS is established. I know all too well as it was an illegal alien TPS holder who killed my son in 2010. These people were not. As to the hearings those who it is said had pending hearings voluntarily boarded these planes. Like almost half of “asylum seekers” they obviously had no intention of attending their hearing. They would just disappear into the country waiting for the next amnesty. Biden and Mayorkas are 100% responsible for this entire tragic mess. Their actions border on treason (cross it if you consider this an invasion).

        1. Don, Thanks for that clarification. I may have misread the Newsweek article which says “The lack of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Venezuela has also meant that these migrants cannot be sent back to their country, and Mexico refuses to accept them as the Venezuelan government won’t allow deportation flights from there.” Immediately after that Newsweek talks about TPS. I may be conflating those three sentences

  6. The crime of high office is that of Joe Biden who has failed his fundamental and essential duty to enforce and defend the border.

    Joe Biden absolutely engaged “…in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

    Treason comes in many forms.

    The judicial branch, similarly, has a duty to conduct Judicial Review and find Biden guilty of wilful gross dereliction with malice, and treason.

    The anti-American, anti-Constitution democrat army is filling its ranks to consummate Obama’s “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

    I have no doubt it will be found that all the invading illegal aliens are “natural born citizens,” as Obama and Harris are, right?

  7. Hey Svelaz and Anonymous, the Horses A** With No Name, the bottom line is that we are all talking about IMMIGRATION and the BORDER rather than abortion, which is all your side wants to discuss.

    Three weeks ago Biden promulgated the Student Loan fiasco, two weeks ago Biden gave the Red Hell Speech, this week Biden held a party for the “Inflation Bill” on the day inflation proved it’s a fact and the market lost over 1200 points. Biden does something every week that will harm the party…and we have TWELVE WEEKS LEFT. Biden will pull ate least 5 more stunts before November and the wave is coming!

    PS. As we hurtled towards the train strike is it me or did anyone else notice that the Sec of Transportation was completely absent? Isn’t that just a tad odd? Did he have another months of family leave? This cabinet couldn’t be worse if they were picked by the CCP and voted on by Iran and Russia.

    1. did anyone else notice that the Sec of Transportation was completely absent?

      Sec of Transportation
      Sec Home land Security
      Vice President
      Sec Energy

      What a slate of total incompetents.

      Harris and Mayor Pete are the best of the Democrat Party. Mull that over for a while. Be afraid, very afraid

  8. September 14, 1960
    Dr. Niebuhr, Professor Hayes, Governor Stevenson, Mr. Meany, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I accept your nomination, and I am proud of it. [Applause.] I am proud to be the only candidate in 1960 with the nomination of two political parties, although I’m not certain how many tickets are now headed in how many States by Senator Goldwater. [Laughter.]

    We had an interesting convention at Los Angeles, and we ended with a strong Democratic platform which we called the rights of man. The Republican platform has also been presented. I do not know its title, but it has been referred to as the power of positive thinking. [Laughter and applause.] I do not regard the title of liberal as an honorary degree; I regard it as a license to preach the gospel of liberalism across this country. [Applause.] But I think you know why this title could be conferred on my candidacy. Just before you met, a weekly news magazine with wide circulation, featured a section entitled, “Kennedy’s Liberal Promises,” and described me, and I quote, “as the farthest-out liberal Democrat around,” unquote. While I am not certain of the “beatnik” definition of “farthest-out,” I am certain that this was not intended as a compliment. [Laughter.] And last week, as further proof of my credentials, a noted American clergyman was quoted as saying that our society may survive in the event of my election, but it certainly won’t be what it was. I would like to think he was complimenting me, but I’m not sure he was. [Laughter and applause.] But a more serious challenge to my credentials, this time as a Democrat, was issued in Dallas, Tex. In his address to a large gathering of Texas Republicans, and there are no purer breed anyplace in the United States [laughter], Mr. Nixon complained that what he called the party of Schlesinger, Galbraith, and Bowles was not the party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Wilson. I do not agree, but I have no intention of issuing a similar challenge to my opponent’s credentials; for I know full well that the party of Nixon, Dirksen, and Goldwater is the party of Hoover, Harding, Coolidge, McKinley, and the rest. [Applause.]

    John F. Kennedy

  9. That face you make when you’re quite wealthy and really woke and really bigoted and it doesn’t matter because you have people for that.
    They’re called the National Guard.
    If only Martha’s Vineyard had any hotel rooms.
    Or anyone who could take in some asylum seekers.
    Out of all of those rich people none offered so much as a meal.

    1. Yes, Tucker, I and others are listening. I would hope those Governors involved in sending would also send some to Governors of wealthy states who no doubt can get the balls rolling faster than any other group.

  10. Pause a minute to admire the ruthless efficiency with which the affluent white progressives of Martha’s Vinyard mobilised the national guard to force illegal immigrants from Venezuela onto a military base. A model for all Red states to follow.

    1. President Biden has called illegal immigrants “a gift to America.” Yet, as you point out, they brought in the national guard to cast them out as though they were lepers. If I were a cynic, I’d say that the Democrats are lying, elitist, immoral, racist, repulsive, hateful, and hypocrtical NIMBYs, rather than the righteous, loving, holy and humanitarian people that they constantly remind us they are.

        1. RE:”Good comment.” NIMBY’s The catchword for so-called ‘progressives’ from the ‘daze’ of low-cost housing, drug-rehabilitation centers, landfill projects, recycling centers, infrastructure improvements and other ‘feel good’, virtue signaling efforts which would not require them to have to break a sweat or suffer any personal inconvenience from.

    1. Yale University and the other Ivy League schools (including Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylania) have generously committed 10% of their total $70 bilion combined endowment to provide free housing, food (including all the Fruit Loops and insects that the illegal immigrants can eat), medical care, and education to all illegal immigrants. But, unfortunately, the evil Republicans have blocked them and pledged to use the national guard to threaten and harass any illegal immigrants seeking help from the Ivy League schools.

      1. JF:

        ” … have generously committed 10% of their total $70 bilion combined endowment to provide free housing, food (including all the Fruit Loops and insects that the illegal immigrants can eat), medical care, and education to all illegal immigrants. But, unfortunately, the evil Republicans have blocked them…”
        Of course, the Repubs can’t block someone or something from spending its own money to aid and abet a felony of bordering jumping after having been prohibited from doing so in a previous encounter. But prosecutors can and likely have explained the basic law of accomplices to the esteemed yet oblivious generators of the managerial class. Down deep they are the worst of hypocrites and feminine men as the denizens of Martha’s Vineyard have abundantly shown.

      2. RE:”Yale University and the other Ivy League schools” The Israelis have employed the use of ‘absorption centers’ for decades wherein immigrants are detained and oriented to enter the country including language preparation. Rather than constructing facilities to handle the numbers being allowed to enter the United States, wherein safe housing, health care facilities, recreation and education, including language might be provided while they were waiting to be fully processed, the Biden administration feels more comfortable scattering them across the nation with no controls, consistency, uniformity or plan for their future benefit, or guarantee that they will ever appear for the hearings which the law proscribes. Moreover, the progressive NIMBY open border advocated, would be decrying such facilities as internment or concentration camps accompanied by their usual and customary charges of racism and xenophobia as they watch the golf and tennis matches from their own personal ‘Martha’s Vineyards’, scattered about the nation.

  11. I think it is hilarious the apoplectic reaction of the glitter rich zillionaire elite who force their dictates on the citizens when a few diverse immigrants show up in their exclusive wonderland. They build walls around their mansions and hire private security while preaching defunding police and purposely ignoring the laws put in place by our representative process.

    Welcome to our world. I hope many more of the millions arrive to their open arms.

  12. “There are good-faith reasons…”; “In fairness to Scarborough and Clinton…; “…there are a host of objections…”.  I subscribe to Turley because of his ability to tackle these issues, and for his opinions and legal citations.  But I wish (and it’s just me) that this article was worded even more strongly.  We’re fighting some real bad enemies on the left.

  13. The federal government bussed illegal US border crossers into States that did not want them and without the State’s permission, and against the State’s own laws.  Although our Constitution gives authority to the federal government in matters of immigration, it does so only in matters of legal immigration.  The States have the right to refuse illegal immigrants, and that right includes removing them.  Calling the removal of uninvited illegal border crossers human trafficking is the same deception of calling Jan 6 an insurrection. Interestingly, since many of these illegal border crossers are, indeed, human traffickers, it could be that this administration is guilty of human trafficking by allowing them here in the first place and sending them to the States. 

    1. It is unclear that anyone involved in this incident is “illegal.” Supposedly some or all are from Venezuela. They have TPS and are totally here legally (and TPS usually lasts for 20 years). These days Venezuela is about the only country in the Western Hemisphere whose citizens have a legitimate case for asylum under the UN convention, which is probably why they have TPS.
      On the other hand, supposedly those not from Venezuela are actively seeking asylum (even if they entered criminally) and they are also therefore here legally

      1. Temporary Protective Status (TPS) is supposed to be for people already in the country when it is issued. Of course in violation of the law Mayorkas offered it to those coming from Venezuela. They should be considered for refugee status. The program must be renewed every two years but typically is renewed for decades (at two-year intervals).

    1. The usual crotchety, old retired men who spend their every breath on here, pretending to be oracles of wisdom and Savants of intellect, composing half of the comments on the blog, are like the old dudes, Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. At least the latter were funny and brief!

  14. It seems DeSantis is in legal trouble. The migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard were lied to, and authorities sending them falsified documents and violated federal law.

    Looks like a slew of lawsuits will be filed. Sending migrants where very wealthy lawyers live was a mistake.

    1. Svelaz following orders and spitting out a talking point. no quotes, no citations. Also he thinks the rest of us are as stupid as he, and igroring Biden doing the exact same thing for more than a year, but in the dark of night.

      1. Iowan2, it was on the news. I don’t think the rest of you are stupid. I know you are. At least some of you for sure. Hope that clarification helps.

        1. Svelaz, “Iowan2, it was on the news.” That quote just about sums up the intelligence of Svelaz.

          The left, dumb and hypocritical as they are, are calling the governors criminals for doing EXACTLY what Biden did??? If Anonymous, or as I like to call him, “A Horse’sA** With No Name”, and Svelaz, another genius, would be willing to answer one question it would be: Hey morons, please explain how the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS got into FL since the state is not a border state? Answer-Joe Biden flew them there in the middle of the night. Now the leftists are claiming that the ILLEGALS that went to MV did so against their will….well, please do tell how it is that said ILLEGALS got on a bus to get out of FL if that is where they wanted to be.

    2. Svelaz, President Biden hs declared the influx of illegal immigrants to be “a gift to America.” Yet, when Governor DeSantis gave Martha’s Vineyard’s residents the precious gift of illegal immigrants, the immediate reaction from you and your fellow Democrats was to immediately ship them out the area as though they were undesireable property to be disposed of and to file lawsuits against the giftgiver for bestowing the precious gift of illegal immigrants.

      If I were a cynic, I’d say that you and your fellow Democrats are lying, elitist, racist, repulsive, hateful, and hypocrtical NIMBYs, rather the righteous, loving, and humanitarian people that you constantly tell us you are.

      So, frankly, I’m shocked at your response. Shocked, I tell you!

    3. Finally a comment that has some truth rather than reactionary right wingers who only get concerned about rule of law when a brown person is involved. Yes, we need a solution to illegal immigration. Trump’s solution was grift money for a wall never to be built and stick kids in cages.

      1. Nathan, you surprise me. President Biden has declared the influx of illegal immigrants to be “a gift to America.” Yet, when Governor DeSantis gave Martha’s Vineyard’s residents the precious gift of illegal immigrants, the immediate reaction from you and your fellow Democrats was to deploy the national guard to round them up Gestapo-style and to immediately ship them out the area to a military base as though they were worthless rubbish to be disposed of.

        If I were a cynic, I’d say that you and your fellow Democrats are elitist, lying, evil, sinister, racist, repulsive, hateful, and hypocrtical NIMBYs, rather than the righteous, loving, and humanitarian people that you repeatedly profess to be.

      2. Hey Nathan, please try better to grasp what exactly a “grift” is. Hunter was a grifter when he got Ukraine to give him millions. The Lincoln Project is a grift as they rip off moronic liberals getting them to hand millions over to them. BLM was a grift as the “leaders” made millions. Ibram Kendi is a grifter using hi grift to make millions claiming everyone is a racist. The White Fragility lady is a grifter by making millions speaking to white people and telling them that they are racist.

        If you notice, moron, all of the grifts I mentioned provided the grifter with millions of dollars by scamming the gullible leftists. Now genius, please explain how Trump made money off of the wall. You know, the wall that actually got substantially built, the wall that lowered illegal immigration and the wall that your team tore down as you allowed millions of ILLEGALS to come into America never to leave.

    4. Even if what you say is true how could these wealthy lawyers who claim to be so virtuous not open their homes to these poor victims of governmental deceit? Easier to call the Governor to remove them.

  15. The Dems have relied on defacto immigration policy for decades….that way they don’t have to take responsibility for policy design and its consequences. Today’s yapping from Dems is more childish evasion. Repubs should retort: “We’ll listen to you when you decide to come out from behind your euphemisms and indignant posturing, and talk seriously and earnestly as policy-designers with us.”

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