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- A Florida GOP bill would hand Gov. Ron DeSantis $10 million to transport migrants across the US.
- DeSantis previously used a state program to fly asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in September.
- Opponents of the proposal said DeSantis is “putting politics first and our economy last.”
A Florida GOP bill would officially expand Gov. Ron DeSantis’ program to transport migrants to so-called “sanctuary cities” across the country.
The proposal, Senate bill 6-B, would create a new “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program” and provide $10 million to transport migrants.
The bill’s proponents suggested that dumping the migrants in other states would prevent “detrimental effects” in Florida, blaming migrants for “increased crime, diminished economic opportunities and wages for American workers, and burdens on the education and health care systems.”
The bill would also allow DeSantis’ administration to hand out contracts to run the program without having to solicit bids from companies.
According to Politico, the $10 million would be granted in addition to $12 million that DeSantis received in his current year budget for the migrant transportation program.
That $12 million came from COVID-19 federal relief funds, Politico reported. According to the Florida House of Representatives Staff Analysis of the bill, the additional $10 million will come from the General Revenue Fund.
DeSantis previously used his program to relocate 49 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in September 2022. The move was widely criticized by Democrats as a political stunt and sparked lawsuits and investigations against the governor.
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the bill or program.
Two identical bills were introduced this month in the state Senate and House by State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R) and State Rep. John Snyder (R).
According to The Center Square, Ingoglia said: “The state of Florida is currently in a state of emergency because of the ineptness and the incompetence of the federal government when it comes to immigration policy.”
Ingoglia reportedly said the $10 million would go towards travel, housing, and food expenses.
He also noted that the state’s agents will ask migrants’ permission before relocating them out of the state, although as Jonhnathon Weber of Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund told the fiscal committee Tuesday, this is not explicitly stated in the bill.
Opponents, like Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Florida State Director at the American Business Immigration Coalition Action (ABIC Action), criticized the economic and political repercussions of the program.
In a statement Wednesday, Santiago said: “ABIC Action condemns Governor DeSantis for continuing to divert taxpayer dollars to fund this draconian migrant relocation program while Floridians are struggling to afford food, housing, and utilities.”
Santiago also said that immigrants are vital to Florida’s economy and “fill critical labor shortages in key industries.”
“Instead of focusing on the issues that Florida-based businesses are currently facing, Governor DeSantis continues to traumatize these immigrant families, despite the fact that they would make our economy, businesses, and communities stronger,” Santiago said.
The proposal passed 14-6 in a Florida committee vote Tuesday and will now be up for discussion for the wider state senate during a special session this week.