Florida state Sen. Jason Pizzo (D) revealed he is challenging Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in court over the highly controversial flights his administration recently set up, taking dozens of migrants from Texas to Massachusetts under false pretenses.
DeSantis’s team provided no advance notice to local officials, although community members and government leaders quickly mobilized to assist with the migrants obtaining what they needed. Those putting the trip together also stand accused of brazen deception about the nature of the journey. Migrants were offered help with lodging and employment, and Lawyers for Civil Rights (a legal group representing some of those on the trip) shared a brochure evidently provided to participating migrants that outlined benefits available to refugees — but the lodging and employment ultimately weren’t provided by the DeSantis team, which essentially just dropped them off, and the opportunities for help outlined in the pamphlet weren’t available to those on the flights. DeSantis’s team made a consent form signed by participants on the voluntary trip available publicly, and the Spanish translation on the doc they released doesn’t even mention Massachusetts.
In other words, the DeSantis team’s own defenses undercut the idea that participating migrants were properly informed of the nature of the journey. As outlined by the state legislator, Pizzo’s planned legal challenge hinges on the financing of the flights. DeSantis relied on provisions of the state budget establishing $12 million for transports for migrants, but as Pizzo notes, rules for the money limit spending to transporting individuals “from this state.” DeSantis proposed the migrants might have eventually arrived in Florida, but they weren’t there when the flights began. Overall, some $600,000 in taxpayer money went towards the Massachusetts trip. What better uses could officials or those involved in helping migrants have found for over half a million dollars? There was no vetting process establishing whether transporting these folks to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, even made sense, in terms of preexisting local connections on the migrants’ parts, a need to be there for legal proceedings, or anything similar.
Pizzo indicated he’s angling for a hearing on his legal challenge by the close of this week. The legislator is trying to secure a block on DeSantis continuing to use government money for flying or otherwise transporting migrants from out of the state to somewhere else also outside Florida. DeSantis was also named in another lawsuit from migrants on the flights, with that case alleging fraud and violations of rights established by the U.S. Constitution. That case also challenges the legal foundation for the trip’s financing, which the lawsuit says was originally COVID-19 relief money, and those behind the legal effort are hoping to block DeSantis from undertaking similar stunts targeting migrants in the future.