Bill allowing Florida to fly migrants around the US passes state Senate

Bill would allow the state to pick up migrants from anywhere in the country

FL Gov. DeSantis sent two planes packed with Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, one the same day TX Gov. Abbott sent two buses to Washington DC Source: CNN, WHDH, WJLA, WEAR, WJAR, WBZ, POOL

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Republicans in the Florida Senate passed a bill that gives the state the authority to fly migrants who arrive here anywhere in the country to other locations.

Senate Bill 6B passed on party lines with a vote of 27-12. The Florida House passed the bill out of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday and now goes to the full chamber for a vote.

The proposal creates the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program, which gives Gov. DeSantis’ administration the right to relocate migrants within the country if they have been processed by the federal government.

The program expands on a provision in last year’s budget, which DeSantis used to relocate 50 South American migrants using millions in taxpayer dollars from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in protest of federal immigration policy.

Florida lawmakers will meet Monday to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and expand a migrant relocation program, key conservative priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his expected White House run.

The flight to Martha’s Vineyard, in addition to drawing condemnation, led to legal questions because the governor’s office paid for the trip using money intended to transport migrants who were in Florida, not Texas or any other state. The bill lawmakers are considering specifies that future flights could move migrants from anywhere in the U.S.

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The bill’s senate sponsor, State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, has said the program would help migrants by taking them to liberal, so-called “sanctuary cities.”

“The state of Florida is not, and never will be, a sanctuary state,” he said. “It’s time for those sanctuary cities to put their money where their mouth is.”

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

The bill allocates $10 million to the initiative.

Democrats have heavily criticized the governor’s migrant flight program and argued Wednesday that DeSantis was making political pawns out of migrants.

“I don’t know why we are singling them out. We are making them feel uncomfortable,” said State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach. “It’s basically a political ploy that we are doing here in the state of Florida.”

State Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Hollywood, is suing DeSantis over last year’s flight and the use of taxpayer dollars. A hearing is scheduled in court for Thursday.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.