TALLAHASSEE – Legislation that sets aside $10 million for Florida to hire contractors to travel the nation to find undocumented immigrants and ship them elsewhere is heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
The House of Representatives approved the bill along party lines in a morning vote, two days after Senate Republicans pushed it through their chamber.
“I wish that we were not here to have to address this specific issue,” said Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart, a House sponsor of the legislation. “Unfortunately, what we’ve seen out of Washington, D.C, under President Joe Biden is a complete failure to uphold the rule of law and to enforce our borders.”
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Democrats decried the move as a misuse of Florida taxpayer money, inhumane and merely fuel for more political stunts by DeSantis, an expected Republican presidential contender
“This is not a game. These are not aliens,” said Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, in Senate debate Wednesday. “These are individuals like you and I who are seeking to leave places that aren’t safe for them and their families. And we are treating them like animals.”
In September, DeSantis transported nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, saying it was a way to draw attention to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and deter them from coming to Florida. In his new budget proposal, DeSantis is requesting even more money to relocate migrants.
The move has drawn legal challenges alleging that DeSantis violated Florida law by using a new Florida migrant relocation program that actually limited transporting undocumented people from within the state – not plucking them from other states.
The rewritten law is expected to help DeSantis fend off the court challenges, allowing migrants from anywhere to be relocated, and would eliminate the old $12 million migrant relocation program.
Florida has already paid nearly $1.6 million paid to Destin, Fla.-based aviation firm Vertol Systems Company for the flights. And it’s spent nearly $350,000 in legspanl fees for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ relocation of nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Overall, Florida has now spent nearly $40,000 to relocate each migrant.