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Tipsheet

DeSantis Sued Again Over Migrant Flights to Martha's Vineyard

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was sued again over flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, this time by state Sen. Jason Pizzo, a South Florida Democrat.

Pizzo, who’s acting in his capacity as a private citizen, claims the program to fly migrants from Texas to other parts of the country is a violation of state law since the individuals are not being being flown out of The Sunshine State.

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He wants a judge to put an end to the operation.

Pizzo contends in his lawsuit that the $12 million the Republican-led Legislature set aside for the relocation program violates state laws regarding the budget, including a state constitutional requirement that legislators are not supposed to enact substantive polices in the annual spending bill.

Florida has so far spent at least $1.56 million with the vendor that helped arrange the first flights. The state paid the carrier, Vertol Systems Company, Inc., $615,000 to transport migrants to Martha’s Vineyard and another $950,000 for what is believed to be a future flight.

>But Pizzo’s lawsuit also asserts that state officials — including those at the Department of Transportation — have not followed the guidelines for the relocation program as drawn up by the Florida Legislature in the budget language, including that money was spent on food, hotel rooms and even haircuts for the migrants in Texas who were eventually sent to Martha’s Vineyard.

He also says that the state is violating a new state law on immigration that was passed this year by state lawmakers at the urging of DeSantis because the migrants were transported from Texas and not Florida. The flight that transported the migrants made a brief stop in Florida before continuing on to Martha’s Vineyard. (Politico)

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“This is very clear and straightforward,” Pizzo said in an interview. “The governor had legislators carry and pass bills that were designed to suit his agenda and that he subsequently signed into law. And even with that completely privileged position, he still can’t comply with the law. He set the rules for the game and then he can’t follow them.”

The lawsuit comes after a civil rights law firm filed a federal class action suit against the Republican governor, accusing him of carrying out a “premediated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme” to lure the migrants to Massachusetts. DeSantis has fired back, however, pointing out that all the individuals signed consent forms.

"The transportation of the immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was done on a voluntary basis. The immigrants were homeless, hungry, and abandoned – and these activists didn’t care about them then," the governor's office said in a statement. "Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts. It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours."

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The Republican also said he’s proud of the fact that the illegal immigration issue has now been thrust into the national spotlight.

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