Jason Pizzo says he’ll block more state-paid migrant flights from Texas
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 11/16/21-Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, speaks during the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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The Miami Senator's court action will be one of a few filed as a result of the migrant flights from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.

Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo is planning to file a lawsuit blocking Gov. Ron DeSantis from continuing his controversial migrant transports from the southern border into blue states, CNN reported Wednesday night.

Democratic lawmakers have been raising the alarm about the legality of the flights since the news cycle blew up with news about DeSantis using state funds to fly some 50 migrants from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

DeSantis has promised more flights. Pizzo, however, told CNN an injunction against more migrant flights is “imminent.”

He did not return a call from Florida Politics Thursday morning.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book sent a letter to the state Department of Transportation on Sept. 16 asking how the administration could justify using state funding for these flights. The $12 million the Legislature authorized for this limits the spending to “the transportation of unauthorized aliens from this State,” her letter says.

The Democrats have not received a reply to that letter, Pizzo, a Miami area lawmaker, noted on Twitter.

“If we are able to get this in front of a man or a woman in a black robe, how the hell is the state going to contend any of these people are from Florida?” Pizzo, a former state prosecutor, asked rhetorically.

Also Wednesday night, the Miami Herald reported a group of Venezuelan migrants had expected to be flown from San Antonio to Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware on a 5 a.m. flight Tuesday. But then, the flight was canceled.

Media reports noted that a chartered plane’s scheduled flight plan indicated that DeSantis authorized more migrant flights. That same company, Ultimate Jetcharters — which arranged the flights to Martha’s Vineyard — had another one going to Delaware, the Herald reported.

The sight of dozens of migrants wandering through a posh coastal island in the off-season last week set off a firestorm. Critics say DeSantis has engaged in human trafficking. A Texas Sheriff has filed suit, so have the migrants.

DeSantis said he aimed to bring attention to the migration crisis. Thousands of migrants have overrun Texas border towns and could be a threat to Florida because many want to travel to the Sunshine State, he asserted.

“If you can do it at the source and divert to sanctuary jurisdictions, the chance they end up in Florida is much less,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday.

Republican lawmakers have remained largely silent on the topic, except for outgoing Sen. Jeff Brandes, who tweeted a screenshot of the budget language highlighting the words, “aliens from this state,” with a comment.

I’m awaiting clarification on where the funds came from and if the authorization for them is not from this language, where is it from,” he wrote on Sept. 15, the day after the migrants landed.

Pizzo has been closely monitoring the situation and sharing the information with his Twitter followers. He retweeted a screenshot of a $950,000 payment the Department of Transportation made on Sept. 16 to Vertol, whose planes were used for last week’s flights. The Hillsboro, Oregon aviation company, with operations in Destin, also received $615,000 from the state six days before the Martha’s Vineyard flight.

On Wednesday, Pizzo tweeted a map of the United States, showing a path from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard.

“Still waiting for a version of this map that shows a connection in Florida,” he wrote.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


7 comments

  • Tom

    September 22, 2022 at 11:08 am

    Wah, Wah, Wah. Sen pisser is upset, Wah

    You Dem morons voted and passed it, it’s budgeted. More garbage.

    Reply

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  • Impeach Biden

    September 22, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    Pizzo! How about taking care of legal citizens in this country rather than worrying about people that enter the United States illegally?

    Reply

  • Nick Ireland

    September 22, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Lauren Book was too busy counting her $2 million buyout to her dubious charity to care about reading the rest of the budget and this was passed under her humongous nose. Now she was caught not paying attention and is trying to save face.

    Reply

  • rustic

    September 23, 2022 at 8:00 am

    All Rona needs is to dye his hair orange and get a spray tan and he can just “think” that these South Americans were flown from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard. Poof, just like magic it’s all legal. Put a red clown nose and a Chinese made MAGA hat and play the Q anthem and Rona you can skip into the White House forever!

    Reply

  • It's Complicated

    September 23, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    There is little that Pizzo or Book say or suggest that I agree with, but I definitely believe it was inappropriate for Florida’s tax dollars to be spent transporting illegal immigrants from TX to MA. If we were paying to fly them from ANYWHERE in FL, to ANYWHERE else, I’d be fine with it, because it was properly budgeted and appropriated by the Legislature.

    Reply

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