The office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday slammed a class action lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard last week, saying the journey was done on a voluntary basis. 

The lawsuit, filed in the District of Massachusetts, alleges that DeSantis and others "designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests." 

Migrants stand with their belongings in Martha's Vineyard

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

In a statement provided to Fox News, Gov. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Taryn Fenske, slammed the class action lawsuit as "political theater" perpetrated by "opportunistic activists" at the expense of illegal immigrants

"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," Fenske said. 


Fenske provided Fox News with a copy of a consent form – available in English and Spanish – that she said was given to migrants before they boarded.

Consent form

A consent form in multiple languages provided to migrants.  (Taryn M. Fenske)

The form reads: "I agree to hold the benefactor or its designed 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 in Massachusetts." 

Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in November 2021.  (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The class action lawsuit alleges that the migrants were told they were going to Boston or Washington, "which was completely false," and were induced with perks such as $10 McDonalds gift certificates.

"No human being should be used as a political pawn," said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is seeking class-action status in the lawsuit filed on behalf of several migrants who were aboard last week's flights and Alianza Americas, a network of advocacy groups.

The lawsuit alleges that migrants were induced to cross state lines under false pretenses, a line that some Democratic officials are using to urge a federal investigation.


Fenske said the transportation of these migrants "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," she said. "It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours."

The Associated Press contributed to this report