Florida Governor Ron DeSantis laughed off a migrant lawsuit with two-word statement: “political theater.” DeSantis is challenging a class action lawsuit filed by some Venezuelan migrants the state transported by plane to Martha’s Vineyard.
Of the 50 migrants flown by the state of Florida last week to Martha’s Vineyard, 3 are suing Governor DeSantis and other officials for being duped into visiting a northeastern island in order to advance the governor’s political career, according to their lawsuits.
In the lawsuit filed in a Massachusetts federal court, DeSantis, the Florida Department of Transportation Secretary, and others are accused of deceiving migrants into leaving Texas by promising them assistance and employment as well as McDonald’s gift cards and other items to board flights. Five others are named in the trial as defendants. They include a man and a woman suspected by attorneys of recruiting migrants in Texas, to board the planes, said The Hill.
A copy of the consent forms, that DeSantis’ office says the migrants signed before they boarded, was provided to The Hill, when they approached DeSantis’ office for comment. The English version of the form says, “I agree to hold the benefactor or its designated representatives harmless of all liability arising out of or in any way relating to any injuries and damages that may occur during the agreed transport to locations outside of Texas until the final destination of Massachusetts.”
English and Spanish versions of the form provided by DeSantis’ office are different. Massachusetts is not mentioned in the Spanish version, rather referring to the final destination as the “sanctuary state.” According to the executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, whose lawyers represent the plaintiffs, the Spanish translation of the form was not “correct or complete”.
In a statement, DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske said, “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 through Central America and put their lives in the hands of cartels and Coyotes.”
A statement released by Feske stressed that the moves had been made “on a voluntary basis.”
“The immigrants were homeless, hungry, and abandoned – and these activists didn’t care about them then,” Feske claims. “Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts. It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours.”
Democrats have criticized DeSantis and other Republican governors for relocating migrants across state lines, claiming they are using them for political purposes.
DeSantis, who is running for reelection in 2024 and considered a potential presidential candidate, has defended the program that moves migrants across the country, which he framed as a protest against President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. Governors of other Republican states have also transported migrants to New York City and Washington, D.C.