September 29, 2022

Florida lawmaker sues DeSantis to block future migrant flights from the border

3 min read

State Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat, claims DeSantis misspent taxpayer dollars by illegally flying immigrants from San Antonio to the Massachusetts island. Last year, lawmakers approved $12 million for the immigrant transportation program. State budget is defined. The money was meant to be transferred to “unauthorized aliens from this state.”

On Wednesday, Pizzo told CNN, “If we can get this to a man or a woman in black, how is the state going to argue that any of those people are from Florida?”

In response to the lawsuit, DeSantis spokesman Taryn Fenske told CNN on Thursday, “Senator Pizzo never misses an opportunity for his 15 minutes of fame and is challenging the appropriations actions voted for. “

DeSantis has vowed to move more immigrants across the border, telling reporters Friday that flights to Martha’s Vineyard were “only the beginning”.

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County, Florida. Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, a D.C. appointee, and Chief Financial Officer-elect Jimmy Patrones, a Republican, are also listed as defendants.

DeSantis has appealed to the GOP base with the refugee initiative as he faces re-election and 2024 sights.

CNN reached out to Perdue and Petronas but did not immediately receive a response.

Petronas spokesman Frank Collins said A tweet In part: “We are in receipt of the filing and are currently exploring options for sanction and/or countersuit actions.”
DeSantis took credit for two flights last week that transported about 48 migrants from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard. A headline-grabbing stunt That has pushed the country’s immigration crisis to the next level for the wealthy vacation town. DeSantis said the action was paid for with $12 million appropriated by the Legislature this year and promised Use “every penny”.

Asked repeatedly about the justification for moving immigrants to a city 700 miles from Florida’s west coast, DeSantis has said he is trying to stop the flow of immigrants into Florida at its source. . He has said the state has people in Texas “profiling” immigrants who might be headed to the Sunshine State, and offered flights to Martha’s Vineyard instead.

Pizzo, who is suing DeSantis as a state citizen, also alleges in the lawsuit that the state did not follow other requirements to spend the money. The lawsuit claims the Florida Department of Transportation never created an immigrant transportation program, nor did the department hire a company to move people. At least two quotes are received, which is another requirement of the law.

CNN has asked DeSantis’ office and the Florida Department of Transportation for proposals for contracts and bids related to the flights. Nothing has been provided till date.

Budget records reviewed by CNN show two payments made under the immigrant relocation program to Destin, Florida-based aviation company Vertol Systems. The initial payment of $615,000 was made by the Florida Department of Transportation on September 8, six days before Martha’s Vineyard flight. Another payment of $950,000 was made on September 16.

The Biden administration is gearing up for Abbott and DeSantis to send more immigrants to Democratic cities.

In addition to the flights, DeSantis also confirmed to Fox host Sean Hannity that the migrants were housed in hotels and offered haircuts and other services before being taken to Martha’s Vineyard.

The planes touched down briefly in Crestview, Florida, a small town in the Panhandle.

Pizzo alleges in the lawsuit that the state also violated a new law passed by DeSantis that prohibits state agencies from contracting with companies transporting “unauthorized aliens.” Although there is controversy over whether individuals picked up at the border constitute “unauthorized aliens,” Pizzo contends that the state violated the new law by bringing these individuals into Florida.

Pizzo told CNN that if the DeSantis administration were to argue that the immigrants are not “unauthorized aliens,” it would again violate the parameters of the refugee resettlement program.

“Were they taking unauthorized aliens into the state? Because it’s not,” Pizzo said. “Oh, they’re not, well then they weren’t transportable at all.”

“If we’re talking about 48 people from somewhere in Florida, and flown somewhere else, I’m not going to raise the issue of feeding them, housing them and giving them haircuts,” he added. “But FDOT, a road construction agency, is spending money outside of Florida on food, lodging and other services to people who have no connection, no connection, no jurisdiction to the state. The fifth-grader Knowledge will understand why it is not allowed.”

The lawsuit requested an emergency case management conference and hearing and called for an “expedited date” to halt future flights.

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