Ron DeSantis is releasing consent forms he said were signed by migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard because the Florida governor tries to blunt a class-action lawsuit targeting his relocation program. But legal experts say the forms won’t help him.
Taryn Fenske, spokeswoman for DeSantis, disclosed the forms to media outlets Tuesday, reiterating that he was attempting to help the migrants by flying them to a far more welcoming destination. The Republican governor’s response came following the migrants and advocacy groups sued DeSantis for what it called a scheme targeting vulnerable people. However, legal commentators say the consent forms are possibly invalid or undercut his justification.
“DeSantis could have gotten the immigrants to sign consent forms — but if there is fraud (also it sounds like there is), then any purported contract was and is void,” Tristan Snell, lawyer and former NY state prosecutor, said in a tweet.
Fenske, in a statement to Fox News, pushed back contrary to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Massachusetts by many of the migrants and advocacy group Alianza Americas. Deriding the lawsuit as “political theater” brought by “opportunistic activists,” she said the true danger to migrants is President Joe Biden‘s method of the southern border.
“If these activists spent a good fraction of the effort and time at the border, perhaps some accountability will be taken to the Biden Administration’s reckless border policies that entice illegal immigrants to create dangerous and frequently lethal journeys through Central America and put their lives in the hands of cartels and Coyotes,” Fenske said.
The forms Fenske provided to Fox News were obtainable in English and Spanish and received to the migrants before boarding both planes that arrived unexpectedly in Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale vacation enclave, fourteen days ago.
The forms indicate that signatories consented to be transported and decided to “contain the benefactor or its designed representatives harmless of most liability arising out of or at all associated with any injuries and damages that could occur through the agreed transport to locations beyond Texas before final destination in Massachusetts.”
Despite Fenske discussing the migrants as “illegal immigrants,” the proper execution states that the benefactors agree they’re “not providing transportation manufactured in furtherance of any unlawful entry in to the USA.”
Judd Legum, a writer and lawyer, reacted to the release of the forms pointing from Twitter that the lawsuit alleges DeSantis and his associates “visited extraordinary lengths to coerce migrants into signing these forms.”
“Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that migrants, who have been experiencing food insecurity, were gathered together and told they might receive $10 McDonald’s gift cards should they signed the proper execution,” LeGum wrote. “These were not told what the proper execution was or given time and energy to read it.”
Legum further wrote that the lawsuit alleges the entirety of the proper execution had not been translated into Spanish, which he said is supported by the document released by DeSantis. The governor’s statement on Tuesday that the migrants were “homeless” and “hungry” also substantiates the lawsuit, wrote Legum.
“DeSantis’ ‘consent form’ is similar to an admission to exploitation,” Max Solomon, an attorney and Democratic activist, wrote in a tweet. “I’ve seen similar behavior when abusers withhold food, medicine, or usage of family from disabled or seniors to acquire money or property.”
Newsweek has already reached out to DeSantis’ office and Alianza Americas for comment.