DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the use of state funds to fly undocumented immigrants who are “intending to come to Florida” from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard during a news conference in Daytona Beach on Friday.
“So our view is you got to deal with it at the source,” DeSantis said. “And if they’re intending to come to Florida, or many of them are intending to come to Florida, that’s our best way to make sure that they end up in a sanctuary (jurisdiction).”
DeSantis stated that Florida has not seen “any major movements of people into Florida.” The governor said that the migrants on those flights were in Texas prior to arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, though they did land in Florida briefly.
“They went from Texas to Florida, to Martha’s Vineyard, he said. “And with the flight, there’s also going to be buses, and there will likely be more flights.”
I just asked @GovRonDeSantis how many of the 50 immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard got on planes in Florida during a 45 min layover in the Panhandle after the aircraft departed Texas. He indicated none. But he claims they intended to come to FL from TX. #news6 pic.twitter.com/F2H6p0rXyj— Mike DeForest (@DeForestNews6) September 16, 2022
The governor said the money for the flights came from $12 million in the budget earmarked for “transport of unauthorized aliens from this state,” according to Section 185 of the HB 5001 budget.
According to voting records, HB 5001 received widespread bipartisan support, passing with 105 votes in the Florida House of Representatives and 33 votes in the Florida Senate. Only three representatives voted against the measure.
“I’ll tell you this, the legislature gave me $12 million, we’re going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we’re protecting the people of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
The governor claimed 40% of the migrants in Texas are looking to come to Florida.
“So they’ve been in Texas, identifying people that are trying to come to Florida, and then offering them free transportation to sanctuary jurisdictions,” Desantis said.
The governor did not say who was identifying people trying to come to Florida, though he did explain the process of identifying which migrants will “try to get to Florida.”
“We have people on the ground (in Texas) — and it’s pretty consistent: about 40% mentioned Florida — and so what we’re trying to do is profile who do you think is going to try to get to Florida,” DeSantis said. “So that’s how you’re doing it. They’re not told that they’re going to stay in Florida. They’re told that their ultimate destination, in this case, was what was up in Massachusetts and with Martha’s Vineyard.”
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DeSantis denied accusations that the migrants did not know they were going to Martha’s Vineyard prior to their arrival.
“The folks that are contracted, not only do they give him a release form to sign, they actually give them a packet, and in that packet included a map of Martha’s Vineyard,” he said. “So it was obvious that that’s where they were going.”
DeSantis said that the migrants were all transported on a voluntary basis.
The governor has received scrutiny over his move to fly these migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
Earlier on Friday, faith leaders held a news conference in Orlando to speak out against the flights.
“The reality is that through our Florida history, immigrants have helped to build our economy, our businesses and our communities. And that’s it. Point blank period. Immigrants helped build Orlando, immigrants helped build the state of Florida and we need to make sure that we’re recognizing that they’re coming here to work,” Samuel Vilchez Santiago, state director of the American Business Immigration Coalition Action, said.
DeSantis is also receiving some questions from within his own party.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, posted online, questioning the use of state funds.
“I’m awaiting clarification on where the funds came from and if the authorization for them is not from this language, where is it from,” Brandes said, referring to Section 185 of the budget.
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