Gov. DeSantis explains how Florida got involved in migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard

The governor claims Florida Panhandle operation led to transport of migrants

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MIAMI, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis explained at a news briefing Tuesday how operations at the Florida Panhandle led to him flying dozens of undocumented immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard earlier this month.

The governor, who made headlines after using Florida funds to transport two airplanes of migrants, claimed officials at the panhandle have seized “about a half a million dollars’ worth of drugs,” as well as made “arrests for human smuggling.”

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“This is like one or two people come in at a time,” the governor said at a news briefing at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. “And unfortunately, what law enforcement does is just release the migrant and only goes after the smuggler. So we have people... (who) say they’d like to go to Florida. And so basically the contractor is... they didn’t necessarily say that but they’re profiling. And then they come to the Panhandle, and then the flight is to go from the panhandle in.”

Faith leaders held a news conference Friday in Orlando to speak out against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after two airplanes carrying immigrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard.

DeSantis doubled down on his decision to relocate migrants away from the state and into sanctuary jurisdictions.

“The policy is we want to voluntarily transport (migrants) away from Florida so that we don’t have to bear the cost... and there’s a vendor that is doing that for us, and so there have been people at the border, in the panhandle, you name it, to be able to make sure that that policy that we’ve been charged with with the legislature is being implemented,” DeSantis said.

Florida Gov. DeSantis is again defending his decision to fly dozens of illegal migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.

He added that the situation on a national level is “unjustifiable,” pointing to changes in the asylum-seeking process that allow for migrants seeking asylum to wait out their court dates in the United States instead of countries like Mexico.

“There’s a whole cottage industry that anyone who wants to get in can just claim asylum. Most of these people clearly do not qualify for asylum, so that is being abused,” DeSantis said. “So you have a process like ‘Remain in Mexico:’ someone can still make that claim, but then this way, when it’s denied, you’re not going to get entry in the United States on that basis.”

DeSantis criticized an alleged lack of border security, saying millions of people have been illegally crossing the southern border into the United States.

He then discussed rising fentanyl deaths and human smuggling efforts, both of which are concerns he’s touted in the past.

“The people that support the policy are imposing the cost of that policy on other people. They don’t want to have to pay any type of costs on this, and don’t forget, (Martha’s Vineyard) is an island that advertised to be sanctuary, and they said they didn’t have the resources to keep... 50 (migrants),” the governor said.

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About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.