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.
Still waiting for a version of this map that shows a connection in Florida. pic.twitter.com/b7BDhXMu2Y
— Sen. Jason Pizzo (@senpizzo) September 20, 2022