The Florida Senate on Wednesday likely will take up a plan that would bolster Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to send migrants to “sanctuary” cities and states, as Republicans and Democrats battle over the issue.
The Republican-controlled Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on Tuesday voted 14-6 to approve the plan (SB 6-B), teeing it up to go to the full Senate.
GOP lawmakers said the state needs to take action to curb undocumented immigrants coming to Florida because of failed federal border policies. DeSantis, who is a potential 2024 presidential candidate, frequently criticizes the federal government on the issue.
“If the federal government was doing their job in securing our border, we would not have to be addressing this issue in Florida,” Senate Rules Chairwoman Debbie Mayfield, R-Indialantic, said. “To me, it’s just that simple.”
But Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, pointed to the DeSantis administration’s controversial flights of about 50 migrants from Texas to Massachusetts in September. He said “what the governor’s office did was dead wrong.”
“What we’re doing right now is carrying the water for the governor, knowing that what he did was wrong,” Jones said. “And you all (Republicans) are holding your nose to vote for this and saying that it’s right.”
A short time later, Mayfield replied, “I am not holding my nose to vote on anything. I think this bill has been thoughtfully put together.”
The Senate committee vote came on the second day of a special legislative session called to address the migrants-transportation issue and a handful of other bills. The House Appropriations Committee on Monday approved an identical migrants-transportation (HB 5B), which is scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers last year included $12 million in the state budget for the Florida Department of Transportation to carry out a “program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state.”
The DeSantis administration drew national attention when it used $615,000 of that money to pay Vertol Systems Company, Inc. to fly two planeloads of migrants on Sept. 14 from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, with a stop in the Northwest Florida community of Crestview.
While the state spent $615,000 on the September flights, four additional Vertol purchase orders of $950,000 each are listed on a state contracting website for “relocation services.” A Senate staff analysis said $1.565 million had been spent as of Jan. 31, leaving a balance of $10.435 million from the original $12 million.
The bill, at least in part, would address issues raised in a pending lawsuit filed by Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Hollywood. The lawsuit contends that part of the budget used to pay for the flights violated the Florida Constitution because it improperly created a new program and changed laws about issues such as contracting.
Among other things, the bill would repeal the part of the budget that was used as a basis for the flights and would create an “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program” in law. Also, the remaining money provided in the budget would be funneled back to state coffers, and $10 million would be allocated to the newly created program — effectively swapping out money.
The money could be used to transport migrants who are in Florida or other states to sanctuary cities and states. Senate sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said it would be a voluntary program for migrants who otherwise might end up in Florida.
“It’s not limited to the ones that have arrived to Florida, that have touched base in Florida,” Ingoglia said. “It also can be in other areas where they have been processed where the intent is to come to Florida.”
But Democrats and other critics said the state could use the $10 million for better purposes and questioned how it would be determined that migrants voluntarily agreed to be transported.
Rich Templin, a lobbyist for the Florida AFL-CIO, said the country needs a comprehensive immigration plan.
“This is a potshot — $10 million to fly a few plane loads of people around the country? It doesn’t accomplish anything,” Templin told the Senate committee.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
They need to triple it. I’m you’re here illegally your a criminal. Let’s get the criminals out of this great state before we end up like CA.
Deborah Coffey says
If I were one of those crazy evangelical preachers, I’d say, “God is going to punish Florida for the amount of hatred it is spewing on the Earth.”
Brandon Cross says
Just your opinion…
Should All migrants entering our Country illegally be allowed to remain in the U.S. ?
Curious… like to know whom I am speaking
Deborah Coffey says
Of course not! But, how many years have we been waiting for Republicans to pass comprehensive immigration reform? So, one has to ask…”Why do they keep obstructing and voting against fixing the problem?” How many illegals did Donald Trump have at Mar-a-Lago over the years while he paid them almost nothing?
What if they made them all citizens and made them pay taxes from now on…. Save 10 million dollars, these people’s lives possibly, as well as “keep track of them” with ssn like they apparently do for everyone else right? ..
Dennis C Rathsam says
Its a great plan. Bidens invaders have destroyed N Y C hotels, complain about the food, drinking beer and doing drugs.All on tax payers dime. Hospitals down south are overhelmed with problems, & are hemmorging money. At least our governor has a plan. He wont let these invaders stay in Fl. Just because the democratic lead states wants kaous, we Floridians dont. We cannot afford all the problems, drugs & crime & who knows what else. Florida seniors, deserve better. We are the ones that get targeted by thiefs, because we are older, and cant fight back. Thank god we have a great governor, one who cares about Fl. Is he perfect? no! No one is, but at least he stands up for the great people of Fl.
Oh Dennis, you are repeating so many of the lies we are fed to drum up support for an un-American and heathen enterprise for political gain. ALL UNTRUE.
These are families of human who need help. WE have a need for people willing to work for all these hundreds of thousands of unfilled jobs we have here. I have news for you, FL seniors will be on their own for so many services, vital services, because we do not have enough humans here to fill the jobs. It takes nothing away from you to help families living in misery elsewhere on this earth. If it were your children and grandchildren you might see it differently? Think about it. We as Americans are better than your post.
What this accomplishes is:
1. Puts ‘sanctuary cities’ on the spot to honor their statements as sanctuaries. As it is, those sanctuary cities ship them to other places, just as FL has done.
2. Unburdens the FL infrastructure (education, health, law enforcement, social services, jobs, etc.). The money spent saves money. Unburdening the infrastructure is also the reason the sanctuary cities ship them elsewhere.
3. Highlights the situation of FL and the sanctuary cities and their inability to handle the influx. It underscores the need for a national approach rather than leaving it to the states closest to a border.
The plan for immigration is simple, stop them from ILLEGALLY coming over the border and request citizenship the same way all other immigrants do. Save money, lives, property. Allows for funds to be used in the State they were intended, not for correcting an issue that should have been addressed long ago. Come on people, think! Would you want this in your backyard – and don’t tell me they’ve all been vetted as that would be an insult to my intelligence!
The ORIGINAL land of no turn signals says
What’s the problem? It’s saves money in the long run.
This makes perfect sense for those residents of this state who want to believe the falsehoods spoon fed to them on a daily basis by Deathsantis, Faux Infotainment and the GOP. It is the same brainless wonders who cannot understand geography enough to comprehend that FL has no international border with Mexico, but who seem not at all inclined to send back to their home country of origin any immigrant who happens to wash up on one of our beaches in a row boat from Cuba. Go figure.
Shows what you know about immigration, Look up aslyum rules. they are allowed to stay in the US until their leagal hearing with a judge, which overwhelmingly they show up for as they want to be citizens. The process is flawed so talk about changing that not using humans as political pawns to push outright lies about people. The party of hate is real and are currently banning books, human rights, voting rights, and pulling the levers of government to go after anyone who speaks against them which is totally Un-American. There are plenty of underpaying jobs in FL and throughout the country that dont pay enough to live on. Immigrants are the solution to large amounts of work at poverty rates. But at some level it does make sense to send them to a place that isnt full of hate and that actually may do something positive for them see Marthas Vinyard example or dropping them off at the VP house on Christmas in the cold and how those communities came together to help these people vs demonizing them. Amazing how many people believe and spread the outright lies and half truths they see on Faux news.
Most of you commenting here do not live in a “sanctuary city” and therefore do not know what the hell you are talking about. I did live in one of those cities, and it is the refugees who are targeted by crime, must less so the residents. So please stop spewing crap you hear on Fox Entertainment. Y’all are armchair experts on the subject, and y’all are falling for the same bullshit playbook. No depth of understanding the real problem, which has not been solved by any politician so far.
Do you want to build a wall around Florida? How about at the Mississippi border, the Alabama border, and the Louisiana border? Think that will cover it?
DeSantis is pulling your chains, and wasting our money. DeSantis is …”just that simple…”
Donald J Trump says
I have no problem with the DeSantis plan as long as this “Kochsucking” scumbag and his entire rag-tag family is on the first plane heading out.