Miami, Florida – The Freedom First Budget of Florida includes $12 million for a program to “transfer unlawful aliens” to destinations such as Martha’s Vineyard.
Under the direction of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, two planes transporting dozens of Venezuelan refugees landed on the small Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, September 14.
In recent months, the governors of Texas and Arizona have transported tens of thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, upon their arrival at Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants were provided with food, lodging, medical care, and advice on where to find job. They have since been sent to a Cape Cod military base.
People on social media have reported that DeSantis budgeted $12 million from Florida’s budget to transport migrants out of the state after their landing on the island.
WHAT WE FOUND
DeSantis signed the 2022-2023 Freedom First Budget, totaling $109.9 billion, in June 2022. This budget budgeted $12 million for a Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) program to transport unlawful aliens out of the state.
The $12 million allotted for this initiative, according to a handout from the governor’s office supplied to VERIFY’s sister station WTSP, will “enable the transit of illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard and other sanctuary states.” As early as April 2022, DeSantis proposed that Florida send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard and other locales.
“The government gave me $12 million.” During a press conference on September 16, DeSantis stated, “We’re going to spend every penny of that to safeguard the people of the state of Florida.”
DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske stated that the two planes that landed on Martha’s Vineyard “were part of the state’s relocation program to relocate illegal aliens to sanctuary locations.”
VERIFY cannot check the immigration status of individuals transported to Massachusetts.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although there is no formal legal definition for a sanctuary city or state, they are generally defined as those that “limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, such as failing to provide information about immigration status and limiting the length of immigration detainers.”
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are listed as “sanctuary states” by the non-profit Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).
8 September, the state DOT paid $615,000 to Vertol Systems Corporation, Inc., an Oregon-based aviation company with operations in Destin, Florida, for the state’s “relocation program for unlawful aliens.” Nearly a week before the planes’ arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, the money was made.
At the time of publication, VERIFY had not received a statement from the Florida Department of Transportation on the company’s role in the flights to Martha’s Vineyard.
The office of DeSantis did not respond to an email inquiry regarding the price of flights to Martha’s Vineyard.