Florida Gov. DeSantis may continue migrant flights to Democratic states
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) may continue organizing flights carrying undocumented migrants from Texas to other parts of the country, including Delaware and Illinois, according to documents reviewed by McClatchy DC.
Why it matters: The flights would follow the two planes carrying 48 migrants that were sent to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts from Texas in September, which have been criticized as a "political stunt."
- The migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials, while their lawyers called on the federal government to open a criminal probe into the flights.
- A possible flight to Delaware was expected in late September but never occurred.
The documents reviewed by McClatchy revealed that Vertol Systems, the state contractor that flew the migrants to Martha's Vineyard, told Florida's Department of Transportation in a letter dated Oct. 8 that it wanted to continue proposed flights through Dec. 1.
- The letter also showed that Vertol proposed sending at least 100 migrants to "Delaware, Illinois or other states" for $950,000 in state funding between Sept. 19 and Oct. 3.
- The Sun-Sentinel previously reported that Vertol had until April 2023 to use $12 million given by Florida's legislature through the state's transportation department.
What they're saying: "While Florida has had all hands on deck responding to our catastrophic hurricane, the immigration relocation program remains active," Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, told The Guardian.
- DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
- The governor has previously denied misleading the migrants, saying they consented to the flights.
The big picture: DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) have transported more than 10,000 migrants to liberal enclaves to protest the Biden administration's border policies, which they claim are too lax.
- A Texas sheriff opened a criminal investigation into the flights in September, saying the migrants were "lured" onto a flight to Florida, then another flight to Massachusetts. The sheriff last week declared they were victims of a crime.
- The Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General also opened an investigation into the funding for the flights.
- New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) declared a state of emergency on Oct. 7 in response to migrants arriving in the city on buses primarily from Texas.