JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference at the Jacksonville International Airport on Friday to propose a series of legislative reforms meant to deter contractors and private entities from relocating people to Florida who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
The governor said he also intends to strengthen Florida’s sanctuary cities law with penalties on local jurisdictions that don’t assist state law enforcement with immigration-related investigations.
“Whether it’s buses, charter planes, what have you, any of those folks who are involved in facilitating this type of illegal migration in the state of Florida, they’re going to be barred from doing any business with any state or local government agency in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “We’re also going to require that any private entity that’s involved in facilitating illegal migration into Florida owes the state restitution for each person that they’re facilitating.”
DeSantis pitched the new laws with heavy emphasis on an incident in October in which he said “inadequate vetting” led to the transportation of a Honduran man to Jacksonville — who lied about his age to illegally enter the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor, according to the State Attorney’s Office there — and is now accused of killing someone who had housed him.
The governor blamed the Biden administration, citing “reckless” border policies that he said allow hundreds of thousands of people to illegally enter the U.S. each month.
“You had somebody posing as a minor, he’s actually about 24 years old and ended up committing a murder, and again if the if the border had been secured, and if the policies weren’t so reckless, that would not have happened,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has put a spotlight on the Jacksonville International Airport before. According to News 6 partner WJXT-TV, the governor accused the Biden administration in November of sending flights to the airport that carried migrants from the southern border, including the Honduran man in question. Responding to a reporter about the flights, DeSantis said there haven’t been any since he initially commented on them.
“It’s been at least six weeks, but there’s not been any flights, and so we’re happy with that,” DeSantis said.
The governor also detailed provisions in the new laws requiring that people convicted of entering the country illegally are labeled as such, with the information to be included in their court records, submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and made viewable on a public website.
Referencing the need to make Florida appeal less to “economic migrants,” DeSantis also said the new laws will strengthen E-Verify enforcement by granting the Department of Economic Opportunity new powers to vet and refuse applicants. The governor also mentioned that $8 million in the 2022 state budget will go toward sending back illegal migrants who are found out.
The new laws will be presented in the upcoming state legislative session, the governor said.