Sep 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis: Florida will keep relocating migrants with state funds

Florida Gov. Desantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at a campaign stop on the Keep Florida Free Tour at the Horsepower Ranch in Geneva. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended flying migrant families to Martha’s Vineyard this week and said he plans to spend millions that Florida has budgeted to continue the controversial practice.

Driving the news: “These are just the beginning efforts,” DeSantis said, per CNN. “We’ve got an infrastructure in place now. There’s going to be a lot more that’s happening.”

  • Florida has set aside $12 million to relocate migrants from the state. DeSantis said Friday he would use “every penny” of the money "to protect Florida." The money covered the cost of buses and will cover “likely more” flights, DeSantis said, per CNN.

Catch up fast: Earlier this week, DeSantis said he used taxpayer dollars to organize flights from Texas for 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, the wealthy enclave about 90 miles outside of Boston.

  • Some of the families said they were promised housing and other opportunities if they agreed to take the flight. Many also said they were not told where they were heading. DeSantis disputed that claim Friday, saying the families signed a waiver to participate.
  • “It’s obvious that’s where they were going,” DeSantis said. He added: “It’s all voluntary.”
  • Volunteers and Massachusetts officials scrambled to aid the families, who will now be housed at Joint Base Cape Cod. The state also plans to activate as many as 125 National Guard members to help handle the asylum seekers’ needs.

The big picture: DeSantis joins Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the controversial practice that’s an apparent response to President Biden’s immigration policies.

  • DeSantis has said he is sending the migrants to “sanctuary” jurisdictions, alluding to an immigrant-friendly designation that many Democratic-leaning cities and states adopted during former President Trump's tenure.
  • Abbott has bused more than 10,000 migrants to Washington D.C., New York and Chicago since the spring, Reuters reports.
  • Biden, Democratic leaders and immigration advocates have sharply criticized the practice as an inhumane political stunt that has used the families as pawns. The White House is discussing "litigation options" to halt the relocations, Axios' Stef W. Kight reports.
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