Tallahassee immigration attorney weighs in on migrants’ lawsuit against DeSantis

Migrants file lawsuit against DeSantis
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Tallahassee immigration attorney is weighing in on DeSantis sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, saying that what the Governor did qualifies as trafficking.

Elizabeth Ricci with Rambana & Ricci, P.L.L.C, says enticing people to go somewhere by falsely promising better jobs or opportunities falls under the definition of trafficking.

DeSantis has pushed back on criticism, saying migrants went willingly and that they signed release forms to go to Massachusetts.

However Ricci said having consent forms does not mean DeSantis is legally in the clear.

She believes this is one of several lawsuits that will be filed over this issue.

“I think that there will be this lawsuit and other lawsuits, possibly even criminal action against DeSantis and or Abbott, but I think really, what’s going to happen is that these people who were transported will benefit from all of this, because I think most reasonable legal experts would agree, there was trafficking,” Ricci said.

Ricci said victims of trafficking are eligible for “U visas,” which are reserved for people who were the victims of a crime.

That means if these migrants have their asylum cases denied, they could still have the option to remain in the U.S. by applying for a “U visa.”

Ricci said, nonetheless, this kind of treatment of migrants sends a negative message to immigrants in Florida.

“I’m already hearing from Venezuelan and Colombian clients that they’re very disappointed in the Governor,” Ricci said. “One client from Mexico was going to open up a large business in Florida and he’s decided to take it elsewhere, just because it’s a very anti-immigrant sentiment here, it’s not a welcoming state anymore.”

Ricci said class action lawsuits, like the one filed against DeSantis, are generally difficult to win, and since the case involves a high-level state government official, she believes it will likely end up being dismissed.