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UPDATE: Migrants file explosive class action lawsuit against DeSantis
On Monday night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) appeared on Fox News and defended his scheme to fly migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. DeSantis said that the migrants' decision to participate in the trip was "voluntarily" and called any suggestion of impropriety "nonsense."
Is DeSantis telling the truth? That will now be determined in federal court.
On Tuesday, three of the migrants filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis "in his official and personal capacity." The lawsuit also targets Jared Perdue, Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, and several yet-to-be-identified defendants who were in direct contact with the migrants.
The lawsuit alleges that DeSantis and his accomplices "executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting [the migrants] for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial, and political interests."
The lawsuit also contains explosive new allegations about the lengths that DeSantis and other defendants went to manipulate and deceive the migrants.
In his interview with Hannity, DeSantis said that the migrants "all signed consent forms to go." But the lawsuit alleges that migrants suffering from food insecurity were pressured "to sign a document in order to receive a $10 McDonald’s gift card."
One migrant, identified in the lawsuit as Jesus Doe, was not told "what the document stated, and it was not completely translated to Spanish." He was "not given time to read or review the document," which included a liability waiver. Nevertheless, Jesus Doe "was directed to write his name, date of birth and signature on the document before he would receive the gift card."
In response to the lawsuit, DeSantis released a copy of one “consent form.” As the lawsuit alleged, significant portions were not translated into Spanish.
In a statement, DeSantis described the migrants who signed the forms as “homeless” and “hungry.”
Another migrant, identified as Pablo Doe, was told that after taking the flight, he would receive "monetary assistance; housing; immediate employment; food assistance; clothing; free English classes; and legal assistance with…continuing immigration proceedings." The lawsuit alleges that another participant in the scheme gave Pablo Doe her phone number and communicated with him in the days before the flights left Texas. But once Pablo Doe arrived in Martha's Vineyard, and nothing he was promised materialized, "she no longer responded to calls or messages to the number she had given them in Texas."
The lawsuit also specifically cites the phony brochures first reported by Popular Information on Monday:
On information and belief, Defendants manufactured the official-looking brochure— lifting language from the Massachusetts Refugee Resettlement Program, a governmental program with highly specific eligibility requirements for which no members of the putative class are eligible—in order to buttress their false oral representations to Plaintiffs in furtherance of the conspiracy described throughout this complaint.
The lawsuit states twelve causes of action against DeSantis and his co-defendants including violation of the Fourth Amendment (false arrest), violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection), civil rights conspiracy, false imprisonment, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction preventing DeSantis from continuing the scheme with more migrants.