Gov. Ron DeSantis’ migrant relocation initiative is getting stronger: proposed bill expected to be signed into law
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida legislature passed new laws that make Gov. Ron DeSantis’s plan to move migrants stronger. The next step is for the governor to sign the plan into law.
SB 6-B adds an extra $10 million from the state to the controversial program to move migrants, and it gives the governor the power to fly migrants from anywhere in the U.S. to cities or states that protect them.
The bill was meant to stop a legal challenge to the governor’s migrant relocation program, which began last year when DeSantis used taxpayer money to fly a group of South American migrants from Texas to the liberal enclave resort island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Legal questions were raised because the government paid for the flight with money that was meant to get rid of migrants in Florida, not migrants in any other state.
Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Miami) filed the legal challenge. He told 10 Tampa Bay on Friday that he thinks the state will file a motion to throw out the case.
“A part of the new law that was passed got rid of the part about last year’s bill. It’s off the books now, and they’re going to say, ‘There’s really nothing to sue about anymore,'” Pizzo said.
Pizzo said that the initiative is a waste of valuable state resources and doesn’t solve the main problems that the state and country are having with the border crisis.
“I have a rhetorical question,” said Pizzo. “Why are we sending people from San Antonio, Texas, to Massachusetts at a cost of $32,000 per person? What does that have to do with anything that really matters and is important?”
While the new law almost guarantees that Pizzo’s lawsuit will be thrown out, the same can’t be said for the lawsuit filed on behalf of the migrants who were taken to Martha’s Vineyard.
The migrants’ lawyer, Oren Sellstrom, said, “This has nothing to do with our case.”
That’s because their lawsuit doesn’t just talk about the law; it also talks about how it affects people.
Sellstrom said, “The main point of our lawsuit is that our clients were told lies and tricked into flying to Martha’s Vineyard.”
The law sets up a program in the governor’s office to move migrants and says that in the future, migrants could be moved by plane from anywhere in the U.S. The measure makes it more likely that DeSantis will make more trips as he continues to criticize federal border policy on his way to a likely run for president in 2024.
Republicans have said over and over that the bill would help migrants by sending them to cities and states with “sanctuary” laws. Democrats, on the other hand, have called the program a political stunt meant to help the governor reach his political goals.
The bills will become laws when DeSantis signs them. Early in March, lawmakers will be back in Tallahassee for their regular legislative session. At that time, they are likely to approve another set of DeSantis’ priorities on guns, education, the death penalty, and abortion.