DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Local Democratic leaders slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his decision to move migrants to Massachusetts, as the governor addressed the controversial decision that has now led to a lawsuit being filed by a Democratic state senator.
Democratic State Senator Jason Pizzo filed the lawsuit Thursday night over the governor’s decision to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week. It aims to block DeSantis from sending any more migrants from the southern border to other states.
“The large budget that we pass every year, which grows larger, had a provision in it,” said Pizzo. “It said $12 million will be allotted for the exclusive use and purpose of transporting unauthorized aliens from this state.”
But Pizzo said the governor broke state law because some of the migrants were seeking asylum, and they were originally flown from Texas.
Earlier on Thursday, several Democratic leaders met at El Arepazo restaurant in Doral to condemn DeSantis for flying the Venezuelan migrants.
They called DeSantis’ latest move a cruel political stunt using misleading information to lure the migrants.
“Dozens of Venezuelan families and children, ripped away from everyone they know, flown across the country, left by the side of the road like cargo, scared and confused,” said Florida Democratic Chair Manny Diaz.
The Democratic leaders also condemned the governor’s second attempt to fly migrants, this time from San Antonio to Delaware.
New video obtained by The Miami Herald shows someone who Herald reporters said is connected to DeSantis promising to take migrants in Texas to a place of “support and guidance.”
DeSantis’ second attempt to fly migrants ultimately did not happen.
Democratic leaders claim “those migrants were misled with statements, including false promises of financial assistance and job placement services.”
“He uses the suffering of human beings to advance a political agenda and uses his cruelty to raise money for his campaign,” said Diaz. “Even for an extremist, power hungry, opportunist bully like DeSantis, this is a new low.”
“We have people who are playing political games with people’s lives,” said Florida State Rep. Dotie Joseph. “They don’t care about the law, they don’t care about humanity, they don’t care about life, they don’t care about any of these things. Their focus is on their political maneuvers to distract us from the real issues impacting Florida.”
Thursday evening, The Miami Herald reported the company chosen to arrange the flight carrying 48 migrants has close ties to a current member of the governor’s administration, as well as connections to one of the governor’s allies, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.
The group flown to Martha’s Vineyard has filed a class action lawsuit against the governor, the Florida Department of Transportation, the secretary and the state of Florida. It claims they were induced to board the place with false promises of financial assistance and job placement services.
DeSantis defended his decision during an event held Thursday at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.
“We want to voluntarily transport [the migrants] away from Florida so that we don’t have to bear the costs, and there’s a vendor that is doing that,” he said.
DeSantis argued the migrant policy that was in place before Biden was elected was effective.
“We had a policy when Joe Biden took office that was working. It was orderly,” he said. “There’s a whole cottage industry that anyone who wants to get in should just claim asylum. Most of these people clearly do not qualify for asylum, so that is being abused.”
Moreover, DeSantis said, officials in Martha’s Vineyard should have done more to help the migrants.
“Don’t forget, this is an island that’s advertised to be a sanctuary, and they said they didn’t have the resources to take 50,” he said.
DeSantis only answered a few questions at the MDC event. As of Thursday night, he has not responded to 7News’ request for comment regarding Pizzo’s lawsuit and to learn more about how his administration chose the company that arranged the flights.
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