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Florida congressman sues DeSantis for blocking future migrant flights from border

State Senator Jason Pizzo, a Democrat from Miami, said DeSantis illegally missed taxpayer money by bringing migrants from San Antonio to Massachusetts. Lawmakers last year approved $12 million for a migrant transit program but regulated by the state budget the money is to relocate “unauthorized aliens from this state.”

On Wednesday, Pizzo told CNN, “If we can do this in front of a man or woman in a black robe, how the hell is the state going to compete with any of the people?” Is this from Florida?”

In response to the lawsuit, DeSantis spokesman Taryn Fenske told CNN on Thursday, “Senator Pizzo never missed an opportunity for his 15 minutes of fame and is challenging an action against his behavior. appropriation for which he voted”.

DeSantis has vowed to transport more migrants from the border, telling reporters on Friday that flights to Martha’s Vineyard “just the beginning.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Court of the Second Circuit in Leon County, Florida. Florida Secretary of Transportation Jared Perdue, a DeSantis appointee, and CFO-elect Jimmy Patronis, a Republican, were also named as defendants.

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

Patronis spokesman Frank Collins said in a tweet part: “We are accepting applications and we are currently exploring options for sanctions and/or countermeasures.”
Last week, DeSantis credited two flights that brought about 48 migrants from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard in a stunt double that has pushed the country’s immigration crisis to the front of the wealthy resort town. DeSantis said the action was paid for by $12 million allocated this year by the legislature and he promised to use “every penny.”

Asked repeatedly about his reasons to move migrants to a city 700 miles from the westernmost edge of Florida, DeSantis said he is trying to stem the flow of migrants into Florida at the source. He said the state has people in Texas “documenting” likely migrants going to Sunshine State, and that they have recommended flights to Martha’s Vineyard instead.

Pizzo, who is suing DeSantis as a citizen of the state, also alleges in the lawsuit that the state failed to comply with other requirements to spend the money. The lawsuit claims that no migrant transportation program was created by Florida’s Department of Transportation, nor did the department receive at least two quotes to hire a relocation company, a claim that other requirements of the law.

CNN asked the offices of DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation for contracts and tender proposals related to the flights. Nothing has been offered so far.

Budget records reviewed by CNN show two payments made to Destin, Florida, the airline company Vertol Systems based in the migrant resettlement program. The initial payment of $615,000 was made by the Florida Department of Transportation on September 8, six days before the Martha’s Vineyard flight. Another payment in the amount of $950,000 is next on September 16.

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In addition to the flights, DeSantis also confirmed to Fox host Sean Hannity that the migrants were checked into the hotel and given haircuts and other services before they were taken to Martha’s Vineyard.

The planes landed briefly in Crestview, Florida, a small city in the Panhandle.

Pizzo in the lawsuit alleges that the state also violated a new law backed by DeSantis that prohibits state agencies from contracting with companies that transport “unauthorized aliens.” While there is controversy over whether individuals picked up at the border are “unauthorized aliens,” Pizzo argues that by bringing these individuals into Florida, the state is violating this new law. .

If the DeSantis administration argued that the migrants were not “unauthorized aliens,” that would again violate the parameters of the resettlement program, Pizzo told CNN.

“Are they illegally transporting aliens into the state? Because that’s impossible,” Pizzo said. “Oh, they’re not, then they’re completely ineligible for shipping.”

“If we’re talking about 48 people from somewhere in Florida, and flying somewhere else, I wouldn’t put them to bed and feed them and give them a haircut,” he added. “But FDOT, a road builder, is spending money on food housing and other services outside of Florida on individuals who have no relationship, no connection, no purpose with the state. . A fifth grader will understand why this is not allowed.”

The suit requested a conference and hearing on emergency management and called for an “urgent deadline” to prevent future flights.

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