Ron DeSantis is releasing consent forms he says were signed by migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard as the Florida governor tries to blunt a class-action lawsuit against his resettlement program. But legal experts say the forms won’t help him.
DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske released the forms to the media on Tuesday, repeating that he was trying to help the migrants by flying them to a more welcoming destination. The Republican governor’s response came after migrants and advocacy groups sued DeSantis over a program that targeted vulnerable people. However, legal commentators say the consent forms may be invalid or undermine its justification.
“DeSantis may have gotten the immigrants to sign consent forms — but if there was fraud (and it sounds like there was) then any alleged contract was and is void,” said Tristan Snell, attorney and former Attorney of the State of New York in a tweet.
Fenske, in a statement to Fox News, defended himself against the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in a Massachusetts federal court by several migrants and the advocacy group Alianza Americas. She derided the lawsuit as “political theater” brought by “opportunistic activists” and said the real danger to migrants is President Joe Biden’s approach to the southern border.
“If these activists were to spend even a fraction of that time and effort at the border, perhaps some responsibility would be taken for the Biden administration’s ruthless border policies, which lure illegal immigrants into making dangerous and often fatal journeys across Central America and.” putting their lives in danger at the hands of cartels and coyotes,” Fenske said.
The forms Fenske provided to Fox News were available in English and Spanish and were given to migrants before they boarded the two planes that unexpectedly landed in Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale vacation enclave, two weeks ago.
The forms indicate that the signatories consented to the carriage and agreed “to indemnify the benefactor or his designated agents from any liability arising out of or in any way related to injury and damage sustained during the agreed carriage to locations outside of Texas until the final destination in Massachusetts.”
Although Fenske refers to the migrants as “illegal immigrants,” the form says the benefactors agree that they “will not provide transportation to facilitate illegal entry into the United States.”
Judd Legum, a writer and attorney, responded to the forms’ release, noting on Twitter that the lawsuit alleges that DeSantis and its associates “took extraordinary efforts to compel migrants to sign these forms.”
“Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that migrants suffering from food insecurity were rounded up and told they could receive $10 McDonald’s gift cards if they signed the form,” LeGum wrote. “They weren’t told what the form was or given time to read it.”
Legum went on to write that the lawsuit alleges that the entire form was not translated into Spanish, which he says is supported by the document released by DeSantis. The governor’s statement on Tuesday that the migrants were “homeless” and “hungry” also backs up the lawsuit, Legum wrote.
“The DeSantis ‘consent’ is more like an admission of exploitation,” wrote Max Solomon, attorney and Democratic activist a tweet. “I’ve seen similar behavior when perpetrators deny disabled or elderly people food, medicine, or access to their families in order to get money or property.”
news week has reached out to the DeSantis and Alianza Americas office for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/consent-form-may-not-save-desantis-migrant-class-action-suit-lawyers-1744734 ‘Insent Consent’ May Not Save DeSantis in Class Action Lawsuit For Migrants: Lawyers