Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces more legal challenges after participating in a vicious political stunt that involved luring immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses last week.
Florida state senator Jason Pizzo (D) sued the Republican governor and other state officials on Thursday, claiming their actions as part of the scheme violated state law. His goal is to bar DeSantis from continuing to transfer migrants.
Pizzo said DeSantis used state funds to help pay transportation costs for two planes carrying about 50 immigrants to Massachusetts.
While there is a provision in the state budget that allocates $12 million to “a program to facilitate the transportation of unauthorized aliens from this state in accordance with federal law,” in this case, the migrants were not in Florida to begin with.
The only time the migrants were in the Sunshine State was when the two planes landed at a Florida airport before taking off again for Massachusetts.
In addition, migrants can legally remain in the country while their applications for asylum or other relief are processed.
“Senator Pizzo never misses an opportunity for his 15 minutes of fame and is challenging an action on an appropriation he voted for,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske, saying CNN Thursday.
In addition to DeSantis, the other three defendants named in the lawsuit are Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer; the state Department of Transportation; and Jared W. Purdue, head of the department.
Three Venezuelan immigrants who were transferred to the island filed a lawsuit Tuesday against DeSantis and others involved in running the scheme.
“These immigrants, who are seeking the proper channels to obtain lawful immigration status in the United States, experienced an experience similar to cruelty fleeing in their home country,” the lawsuit states.
The three immigrants described how they were duped by hired scouts who offered them free lodging and the promise of legal work documents if they boarded planes, which they were told would take them to Washington, DC and Boston. Instead, planes flew them to the remote island of Martha’s Vineyard without prior notice to local officials and where no arrangements had been made to house them.
But the locals accepted the challenge.
“Our island sprung into action by putting together 50 beds, giving everyone a good meal, providing a playground for the kids, making sure people have the health care and support they need,” the representative of the Department wrote on Twitter. state of Massachusetts, Dylan Fernandes (D). “We are a community that comes together to support immigrants.”
So Fernandes has asked the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into DeSantis’ actions.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in Texas is investigating the operation.
DeSantis has been billed as a likely 2024 presidential candidate by the Republican Party.