Axios – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended flying migrant families to Martha’s Vineyard this week and said he plans to spend millions that Florida has budgeted to continue the controversial practice.
Driving the news: “These are just the beginning efforts,” DeSantis said, per CNN. “We’ve got an infrastructure in place now. There’s going to be a lot more that’s happening.”
Florida has set aside $12 million to relocate migrants from the state. DeSantis said Friday he would use “every penny” of the money “to protect Florida.”
The money covered the cost of buses and will cover “likely more” flights, DeSantis said, per CNN.
Some of the families said they were promised housing and other opportunities if they agreed to take the flight.
Many also said they were not told where they were heading. DeSantis disputed that claim Friday, saying the families signed a waiver to participate.
“It’s obvious that’s where they were going,” DeSantis said. He added: “It’s all voluntary.”
Volunteers and Massachusetts officials scrambled to aid the families, who will now be housed at Joint Base Cape Cod. The state also plans to activate as many as 125 National Guard members to help handle the asylum seekers’ needs.
DeSantis has said he is sending the migrants to “sanctuary” jurisdictions, alluding to an immigrant-friendly designation that many Democratic-leaning cities and states adopted during former President Trump’s tenure.
Abbott has bused more than 10,000 migrants to Washington D.C., New York and Chicago since the spring, Reuters reports.
Biden, Democratic leaders and immigration advocates have sharply criticized the practice as an inhumane political stunt that has used the families as pawns. The White House is discussing “litigation options” to halt the relocations, Axios’ Stef W. Kight reports.