Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration continues to battle allegations of human trafficking after relocating 50 illegal immigrants to Martha's Vineyard. Bexar County, Texas Sheriff Javier Salazar announced he would conduct a criminal investigation into DeSantis. A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the migrants by Lawyers for Civil Rights and Alianza Americas. However, DeSantis has thought ahead.
As The Floridian covered Monday, the DeSantis administration clarified that the largely homeless migrants were fed, housed, and given showers before the relocation. Additionally, the decision to go to Martha's Vineyard was completely voluntary. Not only did the migrants choose to go to Martha's Vineyard without the specific promise of work, but they also signed consent forms saying so.
The document, in both Spanish and English, clarifies that the signer agrees to be transported outside of Texas to sanctuary states on Florida's behalf. Furthermore, the signer agrees that Florida will not be held liable in the event of injury or damages that happen on the way to Massachusetts. This is similar to the forms Texas themselves give to migrants prior to relocating them to destinations such as Washington, DC or New York City. Perusal of the document does have a potential weakness for DeSantis' defense is that the Spanish portion of the form does not specifically cite Massachusetts as a final destination, which is present in the English part of the form. Knowing DeSantis, however, there is likely an explanation for that, too.
The DeSantis team issued a statement Tuesday evening:
"It is opportunistic that activists would use illegal immigrants for political theater. 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.
The transportation of the immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis. The immigrants were homeless, hungry, and abandoned – and these activists didn’t care about them then. 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."